The end of Zach Siegmeier’s pole vault season came a bit earlier than he had hoped.
The former Crystal Lake Central standout and recent University of Minnesota graduate won’t be in Sacramento, California, this weekend for the USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships.
A field of 18 pole vaulters are competing at the meet. Siegmeier learned late last week that he ranked 19th in the country.
“I would say it’s a little bittersweet,” Siegmeier said of finishing one spot from the nation’s biggest track meet.
Although he won’t compete in California, Siegmeier’s final two seasons at Minnesota included highlights galore.
Over the past 12 months, he won two Big Ten Conference outdoor titles and one indoor crown in his event.
Earlier this month, he became the Gophers’ first All-American in the pole vault since 1998 when he tied for fifth in the event in Eugene, Oregon. His vault of 18 feet, one-half inch made him the school’s top pole vault finisher in a national meet since 1993.
The fifth-place finish came despite a mishap that disrupted Siegmeier’s preparation.
“I broke a pole in warm-ups and hurt my hand a little bit,” he said. “But I was still able to finish fifth, so I was happy with that.”
In a highly competitive meet, Siegmeier was one of nine athletes to clear 18 feet or higher.
“To have the success that I did made track and field a lot of fun,” he said. “I’m excited to see what the future brings.”
Siegmeier’s future in the event will begin this summer when he moves to Phoenix to train with former Arizona State vaulter Derick Hinch. The two are close friends and were former junior college teammates at California’s Cuesta College.
“We want to train together and see where it takes us,” Siegmeier said. “There are enough meets in the Arizona/California region to keep us busy. We have very similar training styles.”
The two athletes do not have a sponsor, but that is not the main focus of their training, according to Siegmeier.
“It’s not about just getting a jersey,” he said.
Instead, the two will focus on competing as unattached athletes in various meets with the hope of competing for Team USA in 2016.
Early in his career, injuries derailed Siegmeier’s progress. The last year has given Siegmeier a healthy outlook on his future and that of the Minnesota program.
“I hope I left a legacy of a strong work ethic and doing what’s right,” he said. “Sometimes [success] doesn’t come when you think it should. But it will pay out if you keep at it. I tried to instill that in the young guys.”
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