Greg Wright has reasons to leap over an award he recently received.
Over the weekend at the United Canvas of Sling’s National Pole Vault Summit in Reno, Nev., the Lodi High track and field coach received the Coach of the Year Award.
Last weekend’s 25th annual gathering, sponsored by the equipment manufacturer, featured the best high school pole vaulters from the United States and Canada competing.
“It’s a one-stop shopping for the college coaches,” Wright said.
Wright has been coaching high school track and field, in particular pole vaulters, for the last 29 years, including the last 15 at Lodi and an eight-year stint at Bear Creek. His teams have captured many league titles, plus a Sac-Joaquin Section blue banner.
Brian Yokoyama, a West Coast representative for United Canvas of Sling, nominated Wright for the award that has been rewarded to college coaches over the years, Wright noted.
“I didn’t know it was going to happen,” said Wright, who teaches government classes at Lodi. “That was flattering.”
In recent years, the Flames have found success on and off track and field. Last spring, pole vaulter Michael Gonzalez competed at the CIF State Track and Field State Championships, where he took sixth place with a 15-foot, 3-inch jump.
“He wants to be the state champion this year,” said Wright, who’s had one state pole vault champion — Bear Creek’s David Gripz in 1997.
Last year, members of the program and businesses helped Lodi raise more than $400,000 to built an on-campus all-weather track. The Lodi Unified School District matched the funds.
“More of an award for the team than for me,” Wright said.
A government teacher at Lodi High, Wright enters his second year in running the Flames’ track and field program after spending previous springs as an assistant coach. He served as coach from 2000 until earlier this decade when he opted to become an assistant coach.
Wright feels right about the track and field coaching staff he’s assembled in recent seasons. Those coaches are Anthony Rodriguez, sprints; Todd Oesterman, hurdles; Robert Winterhalter, high jump; Caleb Fiedor, long and triple jumps and Tim Fua, throws for shot put and discus.
“I have a real good coaching staff where we can change roles and nobody’s egos get in the way,” Wright said. “I believe we have the best coaching staff in the section.”