Like Cape Cod and beaches, Austin and live music, and Shrewsbury Street and restaurants, there’s no shortage of quality and quantity when it comes to the Westboro High boys’ track team and pole vaulters.
The Rangers entered the outdoor season with a quartet of seniors that is unrivaled in Central Mass. for its depth when it comes to successfully soaring skyward. Jack Chuma, David Klimavich, Jamie Plowman and Jason Silva have cleared a bar set at a minimum of 11 feet, 6 inches in competition.
“We’ve been pretty strong in pole vaulting in any given year, but to bring back that many guys who are competing consistently at that level is certainly a luxury to have,” coach Roger Anderson said.
“You never know who is going to show up (for the opposition), but we know going out any given day we are going to be very, very competitive in the pole vault at any level.”
Longtime assistant coach Doug Lang, whose area of expertise is the pole vault, was anxious with anticipation as the Rangers opened the season with a 102-43 win over Hudson on Friday.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing what these guys are going to do,” he said. “I’m not going to lie, it’s going to be a fun season.”
Chuma vaulted 13-0 last season to finish fourth at the Central/Western Mass. Division 1 Championships, while Plowman jumped 12-6 to tie for fifth. Silva cleared 12-0 to take 10th, and Klimavich topped 11-6 to tie for 12th.
Those were all personal-best performances. Chuma and Plowman went on to finish 10th and 16th, respectively, at All-States.
From practices to meets, the benefits to having such a large pool of talented teammates participating in a single event are obvious — chiefly, camaraderie and competitiveness.
“It’s nice because it pushes us to work harder and to do our best,” Silva said. “So in every meet and in every practice we’re trying to outdo one another.”
While at the same time learning from one another and offering tips to each other.
While Silva has been pole vaulting since his freshman year — he followed his sister, Erin, a record-setting vaulter at Westboro and, currently, Bowdoin College down the runway — and Plowman since his sophomore season, Chuma and Klimavich both took up the event last season.
They were obviously quick learners as their impressive results at the CMass/WMass and state meets would attest.
“We’re all pretty competitive, so it pushes us to go higher and further,” Chuma said. “And with it being my first time last year, I was able to watch the more experienced guys, and it allowed me to get to where they are.”
While they’re similar in terms of performance and a band of brothers around the pole vault pit, each vaulter takes a different view to the most technical, thrilling and, occasionally, treacherous event in track.
For example, Klimavich enjoys the moment when he’s propelled skyward after planting the pole.
“The best part is when the pole bends and launches you up,” he said. “It’s kind of like riding a spring.”
As for Plowman, the peak moment is the descent.
“It’s probably clearing the bar and coming down on the other side,” he said. “That fall — it just seems like it’s in slow motion until you land on a nice, fluffy mat.”
Their interests and ambitions diverge from the track, as well.
Chuma is a volunteer member of the Westboro Youth Commission, which is appointed by the Board of Selectmen to serve as a conduit for the needs of the town’s youth. While undecided about college, he has shown an interest in studying aerospace engineering.
Klimavich plans to study online game development and design and is leaning toward attending DePaul University in Chicago. He also sings in the school’s acclaimed concert choir and the a cappella club, Members Only.
Plowman, a T&G Super Team selection in soccer last fall after leading the Rangers to the Central Mass. Division 1 final, will attend college in-state, although he has to make a final decision.
He would like to continue both playing soccer and pole vaulting.
Silva is headed to Bridgewater State University. A trumpet player in the marching band and its entertaining offshoot, the Executioner Corps (check it out on YouTube), he will major in history and minor in education with the goal of becoming a high school teacher.
But before they all depart, there is a final to-do list for this capable quartet, which also trains in the offseason with the Lang-run Patriot Pole Vault Club.
It includes helping the Rangers continue their streak of having won or shared the Midland B/Mid-Wach B title for the past 13 seasons, setting the meet record at the Central Mass. Division 1 Relays — a mark of 37-6 that Westboro established in 2006 — and individually bettering their top heights and postseason performances.
And if things go really well, perhaps challenging the school record of 14-11 held by two-time state champion Eric DePalo.
“When you’re competing with Dave, Jack and Jason, every meet you never know what’s going to happen,” Plowman said.
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