Hershey’s Stephen Minto showcases four-year transformation with gold-medal performance in the pole vault at District 3-AAA Championships

Four years ago, Hershey’s track and field squad had a skinny young boy who was not good at any of the events.

There’s no doubt about it, Stephen Minto was a hard worker, but he just couldn’t find an event that he was competitive in. Minto tried, and failed, at running the distance events.

Trojans coach Kevin Stover admitted that if he needed to make cuts for his team four years ago, there’s a chance Minto wouldn’t have made it.

“If somebody said you can only have 75 kids on the team, he might have been one of the guys looking in from the outside,” Stover said. “But he was just one of those guys who put in a lot of desire and hard work.”

It’s a good thing Stover didn’t have to make cuts. Four years later, that struggling freshman is now a district champion.

Minto took home gold in the pole vault at Friday’s District 3-AAA Track and Field Championships, held at Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium. He won with a vault of 14-3, defeating Northern Lebanon’s Derek DiAngelis and Cedar Crest’s Daniel Neiswender, each of whom also cleared 14-3 but were beaten by virture of fewer attempts.

Looking back, Minto said he never could’ve imagined the success he’d have in the pole vault. The only reason he got into it to begin with was because it was fun.

“I was not good at anything when I first started,” Minto said. “I was not good at the distance events and it wasn’t fun. It was boring.

“But then I saw some of the seniors doing pole vault at practice and it looked more fun than anything else.”

At first, the pole vault was like any other event Minto had tried — an event that he did not excel in.

By the end of freshman year, Minto was barely clearing 9-0.

“I thought I was pretty good at it, so I started training at VaultWorX before my sophomore year,” Minto said of the indoor facility in Camp Hill that focuses on training pole vaulters year-round. “I thought I had a good talent for it, so I trained for it four years straight.”

Minto got better by the year. He continued to develop not only technically and physically, but as a leader as well.
Stover said he’s amazed at the way Minto has grown.

“From freshman to sophomore to junior to senior year, it’s been amazing how he’s been able to take the sport and run with it,” Stover said. “He’s gone from this little, skinny freshman to a guy who is big and strong and defined as a young man. You look at his transformation from one year to the next and it’s been all hard work and desire.”

By junior season, Minto was competitive. He qualified for districts, but fell short with an 11th-place finish.

Instead of sulking over his disappointing finish, Minto went back to the drawing board and returned to putting in the work over the summer.

Over the summer. That’s when Minto made the transformation from good to great. With Hershey pole vault coach Tim Marconi watching closely in a VaultWorX session, he hit 14-0 for the first time.

From that point, Minto has been nothing short of a star.

He’s proven to be a consistent winner at invitationals and he capped off his winter season with a third-place finish at indoor states.

Minto’s carried that momentum into the outdoor season and shined brightly at districts on Friday. He cleared every height with ease until he got to 14-9.

Minto was close on his first two attempts at the height and stumbled on his third attempt. He was still clean enough through the first several heights to distance himself from the competition.

“It feels great to win. I came back with revenge on my mind from last year and wanted to win it this year,” Minto said. “It just feels awesome.”

Now it’s on to states for Hershey’s team captain, who believes he can do something special.

“My goal for the season has been to hit a PR of 15-0 or higher,” Minto said. “I could’ve gotten it today, but now I’m ready for next week. I’m going to get it.”

Win or lose next week, the future is still bright for Minto, committed to Division I Youngstown State.

“Over the years, Stephen’s been a great example of hard work and how it can pay off,” Stover said. “He’s not only tranformed as an athlete, but as a leader as well.”




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