Senior, 6-2, 160, pole vault
ON NATIONAL AND STATE STANDING: Hunter is No. 4 in state indoor history and tied for No. 5 in the U.S. this season.
PERSONAL BESTS EACH YEAR IN THE VAULT
HOW AND WHY DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN TRACK: “My parents played a huge influence on my interest in track. I played a lot of team sports growing up (baseball, basketball, soccer, football) but I was exposed to track at a young age. My dad took me to a few meets when I was younger and I watched any track and field that was on TV growing up. I joined the track team in 6th grade and learned how to sprint and high jump. From there I just couldn’t get enough of it.”
WHEN AND HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN THE POLE VAULT: “My mom always told me she thought I’d make a good pole vaulter, so naturally I wanted to believe her and give it a try. There’s a track camp every summer held at Lenape High School that I had gone to twice, but decided to try vaulting the summer before my freshman year. I cleared 9-0 after two days and fell in love with it. I’d always been that kid jumping off of playgrounds and climbing things, so I took to it naturally. From there, I attended various clubs to get quality coaching and learn the more advanced things required to be successful at pole vault.”
WHAT IS ABOUT THE POLE VAULT THAT MAKES YOU LOVE IT SO MUCH: “My main love will always be the individuality of the sport. There’s no team to hide behind and no score or refs to blame, it’s all you and the mark you put up at the end of the meet. You know exactly where you stand against other vaulters and even against yourself. Clearing a new personal best height is doing something you’ve never physically been able to accomplish before. That to me is the purest that athletics can get. I also love the uniqueness. Very few people can call themselves pole vaulters. It’s so physically grueling and mentally challenging that only a select few can get themselves in the air and over the bar. The community’s great, too. A majority of pole vaulters are welcoming and will even let you use their poles if you desperately need them.”
GREATEST STRENGTH AS A VAULTER: “My mental composure and speed are my two greatest strengths by far. As talented as you may be, sprinting at full speed carrying a 12-16 foot piece of fiberglass, planting it in a metal box, then using that fiberglass to swing upside down and launch yourself over another piece of fiberglass can seem daunting if you over-think it. I’m 100 percent relaxed and focused when meet time comes. The only thing I focus on is how to get over that bar perched up on the standards and what I’ll need to do it. As for my speed, I’ve always been fast. I was a pinch runner in Little League and outran my friends in backyard games of manhunt. Harnessing that speed and improving it in workouts helped tremendously to make me into the vaulter I am today.”
BREAKTHROUGH MOMENT: “My biggest breakthrough moment in track was capturing the outdoor Meet of Champions title last year. Although I had won indoors, there was less competition and lower stakes. The outdoor meet, after getting delayed due to a storm, was contested on a cool day with high winds. Everyone was struggling, even myself. I was on my third attempt at 14-6 and my good friend Skylar Johnson had already cleared. Coming back to clear it on my third attempt and then make 15-0 on my first to lock up the title outdoes any personal best or accomplishment to date in track.”
FUNNIEST OR CRAZIEST THING THAT’S HAPPENED TO YOU AT A MEET: “Although not a meet, the funniest thing to happen to me while vaulting has to be my first indoor practice of sophomore year. I was at the bubble (Bennett Center in Toms River) and thought I should try my first 14 foot pole. Trying it out, I broke the first rule of vaulting — never let go of the pole mid-jump. I let go of the pole while it was half-bent with me right behind it. It snapped back and caught me right between the legs! I wasn’t able to move for a few minutes and felt sick into the next day, but it taught me the most important thing I’ve learned to date about pole vault.
THOUGHTS ON THE STATE INDOOR RECORD OF 17-0: “Hey, you never know. My coach and I are talking about it as a definite possibility now. If I keep healthy and practice how I’ve been practicing I don’t see any reason why it can’t happen. Only time will tell.”
FAVORITE MOVIE: “Have to go to Shawshank Redemption. Green Mile and Independence Day are up there, but nothing beats a little Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins.
COLLEGE CHOICE: University of Connecticut