Track and field and extreme sports are on opposite sides of the athletic spectrum. But there is one event that kind of ties the two together.
Requiring an affinity for adrenaline and an absence of fear — along with great shoulder and core strength — pole vaulting seems just as likely to be an event in the X Games as one at a prep track meet.
“That’s kind of the nature of pole vaulters in general,” Mountain View coach Kevin Clark says. “They’re risk takers, oftentimes a little rebellious. It’s just the personality that’s drawn to that sport.”
Clark certainly knows the type when he sees one. His team boasts three of the best 4A boys pole vaulters in the state in seniors Brenton Emmons, Ramon Salgado and Logan Kidd.
The trio certainly has the dare devil-like approach it takes to excel at the discipline, and it’s obvious none of them take themselves too seriously. But when the time calls for it, they have no trouble flipping the switch and zoning in on the task at hand — evidenced by last year’s state meet where each placed in the top seven.
“The thing I can say about all three, jokesters that they all might be, when it’s time to compete, they all have a game face and they all have done a great job of putting that game face on when it’s time,” Clark said.
Salgado has qualified for state each of the past three years with three conference titles to his credit as well. Right now, though, he’s not even the best pole vaulter on the team.
That distinction goes to Emmons, who after finishing third at state last season by clearing 14 feet, 4 inches, has jumped 15-0 twice already this spring. Not only is that a district record, but it’s also among the top 25 marks in state history.
But if the rest of the spring goes like he hopes, that’s just the start.
“The ultimate goal for me is to break the 4A state (meet) record, which is 15-8.5,” he said. “I’m getting there. Just have to keep working hard at practice.”
Emmons should have no trouble working hard at practice considering he’s alongside such talent like Salgado and Kidd every day. Considering most pole valuters go off and practice on their own, much like kickers and punters on a football team, some might feel left out or on their own. Not this trio, which is a big part of their success.
“It really helps because they always have competition every week, and they always support each other,” said Paul Bohannon, who coaches all three high schools in the city. “It’s really nice to have somebody there, always behind you. It’s never anyone jumping by themselves.”
Perhaps no one benefits from having such accomplished teammates more than Kidd. While Salgado and Emmons have basketball backgrounds that have translated well to pole vault, Kidd has relied more on hard work and perfecting his technique while trying to keep up with Emmons and Salgado.
“It definitely pushes me a lot because I strive to become as good as Brenton,” Kidd said. “During practices when he has a jump of 16 feet, I still try and go for that.”
Emmons has the top mark on the team now and is ranked first in 4A and second across all classifications in the state. But when it’s all said and done, Salgado might have something to say about that distinction.
The two were neck and neck last year and into the indoor season this winter until Salgado suffered a broken ankle during the Simplot Games in February. Still recovering, Salgado has competed just once this spring at the Mullen Invite, finishing 10th with a mark of 12-6, far from his personal best of 14-11.
With the season’s biggest meet on the horizon, Salgado says his recovery is going well and that he’s looking forward to competing at state and finishing atop the podium, or at least seeing one of his teammates take home the gold.
“That would be an honor, just to even see my teammate get first place because I know we work so hard for that goal,” he said.
“That’s been one of my dreams, to be a state champion.”