“I’m in football, basketball and track as of right now. I’ve been doing basketball since I was young. I started with flag football in third grade and track I started with those little Hershey track meets they hosted in our town. I thought it was kind of fun so I decided to run track in middle school.”
Garrison Hughes is only a sophomore, but his dedication to pole vaulting goes beyond the three-month season in the spring.
“The vault’s my favorite, but I sprint too, and I high jump for Mrs. Collins as well,” Hughes said.
Hughes was introduced to vaulting by his cousin, Mike Herauf.
“I actually got into vaulting because my cousin tried it in seventh grade, and then I decided I would try it because he said it was fun,” Hughes said.
Herauf’s cousin, Jess Herauf, is a heptathlete for the University of Minnesota and took fifth at nationals this year. One could say it was only a matter of time until Hughes took part in the family sport.
As a freshman at Sidney High last year, Hughes made it to state in vault and was ranked third in Class A. Due to a hamstring injury, he was unable to jump at state, but he has recovered and is ready to try again in his sophomore season.
Even with football and basketball taking up the majority of his time, Hughes still found time this summer to attend a pole vaulting camp in Bozeman, Stacy Dragila’s camp from July 18-22 at the Olympic Training Center in San Diego, Calif., and competed in the Boston University Opener with Dragila as his coach in early December.
“It was a lot of fun [in San Diego],” Hughes said. “If there were professional athletes there, you could get their autographs. There were paralympic athletes training there too that were in wheelchairs and would go around the track for 30 minutes at a time just constant. It was crazy.”
In Boston, Hughes was given the opportunity to be coached by Dragila, Olympic Gold medalist of the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
“I stayed in a house the team rented. I was with a team of total of 10 athletes seven girls and us three guys. My cousin Mike was with me as well. It was hard to leave a team of athletes who I got along with and who enjoyed the same sport as I did. I toured Northeastern college and also helped promote Stacy’s Stick Jumping campaign,” Hughes said.
When Hughes is not playing football, basketball or attending camps, he focuses on leg and speed work, as well as preparing mentally for vaulting.
“I’m a headcase,” Hughes said. “Vaulting is really mental, and I’m not the most mentally strong person when it comes to that, because when I get really frustrated I mess up. I’m working on strengthening it. I don’t want to mess up and get flung on the track. I’ve seen it happen, it’s not pretty.”
It helps to have a supportive team surrounding him. Hughes said Sidney’s vaulting team is really encouraging, as well as talented.
Hughes cleared an official 13’6” at a meet and 14’ in practice. His goal this year, much like many other athletes, is to be a state champion, in addition to clearing 15’.