She learned how to pole vault before she was allowed to run.
That early lesson is paying off.
Less than two years after taking up the sport, and after suffering a horrific knee injury while competing in gymnastics, Alysse McMillen from Reno High set a meet record in the pole vault, clearing 12 feet, 6 inches, Saturday at the Reed Rotary Invitational.
The senior broke the meet record of 12-4 set by Reed’s Mikayla Linebarger last year. Linebarger, now a sophomore at Reed, is still recovering from tendinitis in her knees and Saturday was her first meet of the year.
But McMillen is rounding into prime shape. She attempted 12-9 on a windy Saturday, and barely missed on her third attempt Saturday, clearing the bar before knocking it off on her way down.
The Reed stadium record is 12-7, set by Reed’s Ashley Feinberg in 1997. Alexis Romero from Wooster set the state record of 12-8 last year. The regular season record is 13-0, set by Madison Mills of Manogue. State records in track and field can only be set at a state meet.
McMillen, who was third at state last year at 12-0, said she has cleared 12-8 in indoor jumps with the Raise the Bar pole vaulting club in Reno.
“She was just a natural at it. Picked it up really fast,” Raise the Bar owner and coach Randy Bryant said. “She was just a natural fit for the pole vault from her gymnastics background.”
She has signed with Cal State Fullerton to compete in pole vault.
After her knee injury, McMilllen was not allowed to run. Bryant started her training in pole vault by standing on a platform and jumping off it while hanging onto the pole.
She was a Level 10 gymnast, the highest ranking.
Her right knee bears a long scar, the result of cartilage and bone breaking when she landed wrong during a competition in April 2013.
She started pole vaulting that fall.
“I really got into it,” she said. “It’s really become part of my life. It’s really great. I knew nothing about it. I had some friends who did it, but I had never even thought about doing it myself.”
Her gymnastics background helps her pole vaulting.
“She’s got great strength,” Bryant said. “She had eight-plus years of that in gymnastics.”
Zachary Arbogast won the boys pole vault, clearing 14-6. He finished fourth at state last year at 13-6. Arbogast a senior at Wooster, said 15-0 should be attainable this year, and possibly even 16-0.
Arbogast said if he can clear 16-0, his choice of college will open up.
“If everything falls together, I will,” he said of clearing 16 feet.
To do well, pole vaulting has to be second nature
“You can’t prepare for it, you’ve got to just go, and trust your training,” he said. “A lot of it has to do with technique. Knowing when and and where to implement what needs to happen.”
Arbogast, who also trains with Raise the Bar, started pole vaulting as a freshman. He cleared 6-6 that year.
“I’ve come a long way. It is fun,” he said. “I like anything to do with the air. It’s the closest to flying without a plane.”
Nate Heck from Fallon was second, also clearing 14-6.
Wooster pole vault coach Tony Mudd said hard work has gotten Arbogast to the top.
“He’s the hardest working pole vaulter I’ve ever coached,” Mudd said.
The meet included 1,349 athletes representing 30 schools. Freshman and sophomores had their own division.
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