IU’s pole vaulters and heptathletes have earned many accolades throughout the past 10 seasons. Even as students arrived and graduated, recognition kept finding the IU program.
The lone constant was one man: their coach, Jake Wiseman.
The Hoosier pole vault and heptathlon squads have exploded their way into national contention this season and are sending three athletes to the NCAA Indoor Championships this weekend, the most in program history.
Junior pole vaulter Sophie Gutermuth and junior heptathletes Stephen Keller and Dylan Anderson all placed top-16 in the nation in their respective events and all improved on their top-10 marks.
Gutermuth broke the school record with a vault of 4.24 meters.
“Jake (Wiseman) is half the reason I came here,” Gutermuth said. “He’s always super positive and super encouraging, and those are the two main things. I was verbally committed to somewhere else, and he was a big reason why I made my decision to come here.”
Wiseman is in his 10th year coaching the Hoosiers, a tenure that began after his IU track career came to an end in 2005.
As an athlete, he set the fifth-best heptathlon score in IU history with 5.243 points and was named second-team All-Big Ten.
Once IU Coach Ron Helmer rejoined the program as the head coach in 2007, he retained Wiseman from the previous staff and has kept him as his assistant coach ever since.
“It’s one thing to be productive when a high-level athlete or two comes through and then leaves,” Helmer said. “But he consistently gets the job done, and that is what you look for in a coach.”
Since 2005, 18 men’s top-10 records and 21 women’s top-10 records have been set between Wiseman’s indoor and outdoor events. These include 2013 Bowerman award-winner Derek Drouin leading the indoor men’s heptathlon and 2014 graduate Kelsie Ahbe topping the women’s outdoor pole vault.
Five of those top-10 records have been set this season.
“With this group, what they bring every day is how competitive they are,” Wiseman said. “We always try to bring to practice a ‘Who won today’s practice?’ mentality, and that helps with them getting better and better every day. That’s something I’ll always remember about this group, their competitiveness.”
Competition is what has defined both Keller’s and Anderson’s seasons, as they have leap-frogged each other on the top-10 list both times they competed against each other this year. Keller sits second in school history, and Anderson sits fourth.
“I trust him completely,” Anderson said about Wiseman. “He makes it to where I don’t have to think. I just listen to what he says, and just go for it.”
Keller and Anderson are the first All-American heptathletes in IU history, ranking 10th and 16th respectively going into the NCAA Indoor Championships.
The only other heptathletes to qualify for nationals in IU history are Derek Drouin in 2013 and Wiseman in 2005.
High jump specialist Drouin scratched the heptathlon to focus on his high jump competition, in which he won the national championship with a jump of 2.35 meters.
Wiseman acknowledges and accepts that athletes he coaches can be better than him. The first athlete to help him realize this was Drouin, who now competes for the Canadian national team. He maintains this humble mindset with current athletes he coaches.
“It’s important to remember that these guys trained with Drouin,” Wiseman said. “It really set a good mindset, and that’s how they came into this season. It’s given them a competitive feel in practice.”
Junior pole vaulter Terry Batemon did not qualify for nationals, but he did finish third in the Big Ten Championships after pulling his upper and lower right hamstring last year, cutting his season short as he redshirted his outdoor season.
This outdoor season, he said he hopes to qualify for nationals.
“He’s a coach that makes me think, ‘Man, I want to be that jumper that puts him on the map,’” Batemon said about Wiseman. “We know Coach Wiseman. Everyone knows Coach Jake Wiseman.”
The last decade of IU pole vault and multi events wouldn’t be the same without Wiseman, and the southern Indiana native has always had the heart for IU.
“This is home,” Wiseman said. “I grew up here. There are pictures of me growing up in IU onesies. My room was always decorated with IU stuff. For me, this is home, so coaching here is very special.”