Hayden Fox has a vision.
The Hempfield junior wants to become a two-time PIAA Class AAA champion in the pole vault and would like to clear 17 feet.
And he doesn’t care what order it happens.
His pole vault coach, Melissa White, is confident her star vaulter will attain his goals.
“He’s an extraordinary athlete,” said White, who also coaches Fox in the javelin. “He’s so easy to coach. He’ll try anything I ask.”
Not only is Fox one of the top pole vaulters in the state, he’s quickly becoming one of the top javelin throwers, too. He recently broke the school record with a throw of 188 feet, 6 inches, breaking the mark of 187-2 set by Cody Henderson in 2005.
He did that Tuesday with the temperature barely the mid-40s. He wanted to attempt to break the pole vault record, but because there was a girls lacrosse match scheduled, he had to stop after clearing 14 feet.
“I wanted to keep going and get both records on the same day,” said Fox, who cleared 15-9 during the Tri-State Track Coaches Association indoor finals when he edged rival Caleb Sanford of Erie McDowell.
Sanford and Fox each cleared 15-6 at the state indoors championship, but Sanford was awarded first because he cleared 15-6 on his first attempt and Fox on his second.
Fox placed third at the PIAA meet in 2015.
White discovered Fox in seventh grade when he came out for the West Hempfield Middle School team. He wanted to try pole vault because his older brother, Grant, vaulted.
“I’d go to his meets and decided I wanted to try it,” Fox said. “We had tryouts, and I had to clear 8 feet. I didn’t have a problem and by the end of the season I was clearing 9-6.”
White added: “When I asked him to jump up, his head touched the ceiling and I told him ‘You’re jumping.’ He had a great vertical jump.”
Fox is chasing Hempfield’s school record of 16-1 Mark Algieri set in 1988.
“That’s the record he really wants,” said White, who also pole vaulted and threw javelin at Southmoreland in 1999.
Pole vault still is his main priority when it comes to practice. Any day the weather is nice, Fox said, they vault.
He throws on Saturday mornings and when the weather isn’t appropriate for vaulting.
Fox said he started throwing the javelin because he knew the team didn’t have a thrower. His baseball background and strong right arm made him a natural.
White and Fox send videos to Penn State senior Michael Shuey, who will offer suggestions on how to improve.
“Because pole vaulting can become frustrating at times, I throw javelin to relieve my stress,” Fox said. “I broke the school record with a five-step run up. I’m confident I’ll get over 200 when I start using a regular run up.”
White said Fox will become one of the WPIAL’s top contenders in the javelin.
“I really like both events,” said Fox, who also played baseball as a freshman. “I gave up baseball after I injured my ankle. My future in college is track.”
But if there was one track event he favors, it is pole vault.
“There’s not a better feeling when I soar over bar and land in the mat below,” Fox said. “That’s such an awesome feeling.
“Things happen so quickly. You know it when you make a big jump.”
Fox hopes to have that feeling a lot over the next two months.