Sky’s the limit for Rochester’s Pasley

ROCHESTER — Rochester High School’s Blake Pasley is a state champion in football and would love to be one in the pole vault.

Pasley finished 11th at last year’s Class 1A state track and field meet as a sophomore when he cleared 13 feet 9. This season, he’s already set a personal record with a vault of 14-0. And his coach says Pasley hasn’t even taken off yet.
Both Pasley and Rochester vault coach Todd Ward said all that is lacking from Pasley’s pole-vaulting acumen is better form.

“I’ve been teaching this to him since sixth grade, and I’ve been pounding it in his head that he’s got to come out of that chair,” Ward said. “They just don’t get it until they do it. But you’ve got to trust yourself to do it.

“I’m getting him safe on the mat; I don’t have him on a pole he’s going to get hurt on. He’s just got to do it. Boys usually (get it) their sophomore, junior year.”

Seeking 15-0

Pasley is hoping to reach the 15-foot mark before sectionals in May but would like to see improvement in today’s Rochester Invitational.

“I just really have to work on my form. I have a lot of power, but my form is where I lack,” he said. “There’s so much that goes on when you pole vault. It’s everything. You’ve got to have power coming in, have to have a good plant and then form on top, which I lack. I need to get it up there consistently.”

His pole-vaulting season came to a temporary halt for nearly a week when he was hospitalized last week due to a severe stomach cramp. Pasley said his mom knew something was wrong when he couldn’t force himself to go to practice.

He was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, a gastrointestinal illness, and stayed in a hospital bed for four days. Now medicated, Pasley hopes by having fewer and less-severe stomach cramps, he’ll be able to put even more focus into his athletic pursuits.

“They’ve got me on pills now,” he said. “But they said it would make me better not having all those stomachaches all the time. I’ve always had stomachaches my whole life.”

Wednesday was his first practice back. He said just being out for a week made for a tough practice.

Elite company

Ward compares Pasley to Matt Bane, a 2010 Rochester graduate who won the state pole vault his senior season by clearing 16-0. Bane is now a sophomore pole-vaulter for the University of Illinois’ track and field team. Bane also won the 2011 indoor Big Ten championship.

“He’s gotten a lot stronger and a lot faster, so that means we can work on the bigger poles,” Ward said of Pasley. “Bigger poles, lighter-weight kid, you’re going to go higher. It’s a matter of athleticism.

“He’s just like Bane; he’s actually faster and stronger than Bane. He’s still trying to buy into the pole vault. He understands a lot of it. There are just a couple of parts of it he’s not getting. When he gets it, he’s going to be just like Matt.”

Pasley had the second-most receiving yards (638) for the Rockets’ Class 4A state championship football team last season, and he was fourth on the team with 46 catches. He also caught four touchdown passes.

Before football can start, he still has over a month left to the track season.

“Football is way more intense,” Pasley said. “I like that about pole vault; it’s just kind of you hanging out with your friends, and it’s really laid back, until you really get into it. But it’s not anything like football with how intense it is. That’s why I like it.

“I like pole vault. Pole vault is my favorite thing to do.”

By: Ryan Mahan

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Blake Pasley

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