Senior, 6-2, 160, pole vault

JUST THE STATS: Hunter cleared a Mercer County record 16-0, No. 4 in state indoor history and No. 5 in the nation this season, on his first attempt in the pole vault at the Mercer County Championships last Saturday at the Lavino Field House in Lawrenceville.REACTION TO 16-0: “Making 16-0 had to have been the most shocking and exciting experiences of my life. I felt like something big was going to happen before my slate of meets over the weekend. I just didn’t know in how big of a fashion it would be. I had no idea I had cleared 16-0 until I hit the pit since I nudged it on the way over, so the realization didn’t hit me until I was looking up at it. Getting to the next foot mark is always the most exciting. It’s a clear indicator that you’re doing something right.”

Hunter is No. 4 in state indoor history and tied for No. 5 in the U.S. this season.

“Truly amazing.  It actually didn’t come to my attention until the bus ride home from the meet that I had hit No. 5 in the country and No. 4 in NJ history, so that added to the excitement. I look at some of the names that I’m listed with now and can’t even believe it. Marks put up by vaulters like Adam Sarafian and Bill Lange were practically fictional to me when I first started. It’s unbelievable that now I’m sitting here with my name so close to theirs, one of four in the state of New Jersey to clear 16 feet.
“As for the U.S., I’ll need to hit some higher heights to keep that place on the list since so many kids come out of the woodwork. I like putting Robbinsville’s name up there, it feels good to represent the town in pole vault. Although I’m taking a little bit to let it soak in, I’m ready to push higher.”KEYS TO MAKING 16-0: “Three big contributing factors were practice, my coach, and the pole. I spent all fall and early winter on short steps working out my problems on a small scale. This allowed me to isolate the problems and fix them before moving back to a longer step and a bigger pole. Couple that with my sprint workouts at Robbinsville and it was only a matter of time before something big happened.

“I didn’t compete in any meets until Dec. 29, so Nick Tyson (my pole vault coach coach out of Vertical Adventures) and I had a good amount of time to fix things before the season really got into full swing. He’s been a huge part of this for me, not only as a coach but as a mentor. He knows how to keep me calm and focused, two major pieces of pole vault.
“He (Tyson) came to my Saturday meet to help me get back on my seven step, which gave me the confidence to have a breakout performance on Sunday. I was having such a good day that I blew through the biggest pole I had ever used. Sitting in my bag was the next pole up, but I had never touched it a day in my life. I trusted myself, though, and with the convincing of helpers at the meet I broke it out on my 15-6 jump.  It gave me the energy off the top I needed to eventually jump 24 inches over my hand grip to clear 16.”NEXT MEET: Wednesday at the Central Jersey, Group 2 Championships in Toms River.


Freshman- 11-6
Sophomore- 14-0
Junior-15-6 ½
Senior 16-0

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.

“In a meet, warming up at 2012 outdoor MOCs was pretty crazy. They didn’t cover the pit before the storm hit. Me, being the first person on the runway to warm up, came out of the pit like I had just jumped in a pool.”GOALS FOR THE REST OF THIS INDOOR SEASON AND FOR OUTDOORS: “My goals are to jump as high as I physically can indoor and outdoor. Everything’s in place with my future, now I can just sit back and have a good time vaulting. I don’t like to set numerical goals too much, as that makes me feel like there’s a ceiling. I just go with how I’m jumping and however high that takes me is up to how well I compete. I always like to jump close to or at my PR every meet, so that’s probably my biggest goal.”

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.”

“Have to go to Shawshank Redemption.  Green Mile and Independence Day are up there, but nothing beats a little Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins.

FAVORITE TV SHOW: American Horror Story or South Park.
FAVORITE FOOD: “Can always go for a good pork roll, egg, and cheese on an everything bagel from our local legend bagel shop (Bagels and Cream).”
TRADING PLACES: “(Former Russian Olympic pole vaulter) Sergey Bubka.  He went four feet higher than I did. I need to learn how to do that!”
PRESIDENT FOR A DAY: “Put in a bid for every Olympic Games possible. I was two the last time the U.S. hosted the Olympics. That needs to change ASAP.”
IN 10 YEARS: “Depends on where my career goes. If I flop, I’ll have a degree in computer science to make use of and find a good job. I can dream of Rio though, can’t I?”
SUPER BOWL PICK: “Although I like the 49ers, Flacco has showed some love in the past to Robbinsville by helping out at a youth football camp. I have to go with the Ravens over the 49ers, 20-17.”

COLLEGE CHOICE: University of Connecticut


Hunter Vaulter Magazine
Hunter Vaulter Magazine

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