How high can Saugatuck senior Kyle McNicholas go?
It’s not often that an athlete can break a track and field record that has stood for nearly four decades, as McNicholas did during the Indians’ first outdoor meet of the season Wednesday, March 28.
“He’s a little short (5-foot-6) and not your typical pole vaulter,” said Saugatuck’s boys’ track coach Rick Bauer. “Kyle is a perfect example of a kid who sticks with track long enough until he becomes successful.
“I don’t know his first name, but some (Saugatuck) athlete with the last name of Diller held the previous record at 12 feet, 9 inches.”
McNicholas bettered Diller’s old school mark set 38 years ago by one-half inch at the Polar Bear meet held at Marcellus.
“It felt great,” McNicholas said of vaulting a school-best 12-9.5. “It’s something I really wanted to do.”
McNicholas’ father Mark is proud of his son.
“Kyle has put a lot of hard work into this with extra practices at school and on his own with other coaches,” Mark McNicholas said. “One of his goals this year was to break the record in the first outdoor meet.”
Amazingly, Kyle McNicholas did not start vaulting until his sophomore year.
“I like pole vaulting,” McNicholas said. “It’s my favorite event.”
McNicholas credits Saugatuck pole vault coach George Sipes for his success.
“Coach Sipes has really helped me in this event,” McNicholas said.
Bauer isn’t surprised with what Sipes has taught McNicholas and is teaching others in the pole vault.
“George was a very good pole vaulter in high school at Bloomingdale,” Bauer said. “He has really helped us in that event at Saugatuck.”
McNicholas, a two-year varsity starter in football as a running back, also competes in four other events besides pole vault.
“I’m a decent sprinter,” he said. “I run the 100 (meter) and 200 (meter) dashes and the 4×100 and 4×200 relays.”
McNicholas gets a thrill every time he pole vaults. “It’s challenging,” he said of his favorite event. “I love the swinging, rocking back and forth of the pole.”
McNicholas would like this to be just the first time of many that he breaks the vaulting record.
“I would like to destroy my current record, set it so high that it’s not broken for a long time,” he said.
McNicholas would also love to participate in track and field at Grand Rapids Community College after he graduates from high school.
“We’ll see what happens,” said McNicholas, who will major in building and trade at GRCC. “I hope to (eventually) get into construction.”
By Leo Martonosi Sports Correspondent
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