WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Iona Prep pole vaulter Greg Gallagher sat in the shade under a tent Saturday at the Glenn D. Loucks Memorial Track and Field Games and watched runners whiz by. His turn at vaulting over a bar 14 feet, 6 inches in the air would not come for quite a few hours.
Some of his fellow competitors sat in the grass as the sun beat down on them and watched one athlete after another vault over the bar, which increased by 6-inch increments every so often. But Gallagher does not enjoy watching the other vaulters during the downtime.
The shade afforded him a place to watch the triple jump and running events. After all, if he had to wait, he wanted to be comfortable. But the star athlete was not exactly enjoying sitting around for hours.
“The worst part is definitely this part right now, when you’re waiting,” Gallagher said a few hours before he competed. “You have your warm-ups and then you just psychoanalyze every little bit of it in your two, three hours waiting. So hopefully it will go well.”
The Loucks Games listed Gallagher as the top seed in the pole vault, which featured 43 contestants. But Gallagher said that did not add any extra pressure. In fact, he relishes the intense, crowded competition.
“It’s good I know there’s competition right behind me, and it’s always good to jump with good guys. And jumping high is a lot easier when you have guys pushing you,” Gallagher said.
This was Gallagher’s third Loucks Games. He saw Jordan Yamoah’s record 16-foot jump with his own eyes and hoped to break that when he finally stepped to the line.
Gallagher, a senior, was cut from Iona Prep’s basketball team in his freshman year, and his track coach encouraged him to try pole vaulting. Gallagher hesitated at first but, after his first season, he began to enjoy it.
Now, Gallagher hopes to add another state title to his résumé. He won the indoor state championship earlier this year. He will have the chance to win the outdoor title in June and potentially become an All-American.
But first, Gallagher had to wait his turn at the Loucks Games.
“It’s just such a great environment to jump in,” Gallagher said. “The crowd is always behind me.”
By Andrew Meola