There was family history as a jumper for Rocky Cauble to follow, but the Lincoln Southeast junior found the path his sister blazed as a pole vaulter to be more enticing.
Cauble is among the top contenders in the Class A pole vault Saturday morning at the state track meet at Omaha Burke Stadium. And he credits his older sister, Mikaela, for getting him hooked on the sport.
Mikaela, a girls state pole vault qualifier from Southeast in 2012 and 2013, “got me started when I was pretty young using a broomstick at home,” Rocky said. “She made me go to practice with her and basically told me ‘You’re going to learn this.’ Now I’m glad she did.’’
Their older stepbrother, Jeff Cauble, was the all-class gold medal winner in the long jump in 1989, competing for the Knights. He later jumped for Nebraska. Their father, Ken Cauble, was a Texas high school high jump champion who played basketball at Nebraska and eventually became chief of police at UNL. He died of ALS in 2004 when Rocky was 5.
Jeff, who now lives in Omaha, was at Beechner Athletic Complex on Saturday morning coaching his youth track club team in a local meet at the same time Rocky was going through a workout.
“He really took to it (the pole vault) and now he’s a total stud,” Jeff said of Rocky. “We’re excited for him.”
Like his father and brother, Rocky has height. escortstars. And Rocky is just learning to use his 6-foot-3 frame, according to LPS pole vault coach Chris Johnson.
“That height gives him advantages with the angle of takeoff and the ability to get on longer poles,” said Johnson, who has coached nine boys to Class A state pole vault gold medals during his time working with athletes from all six LPS schools.
“Now it’s just a matter of getting him more confident on the longer poles and handling the mental part of it. It’s going to be fun to see what he can do at state next weekend and then all of next season.”
Rocky tied for fifth last year at state by clearing 13-6. He was on the wrestling team as a freshman and sophomore, but decided to focus strictly on the pole vault last winter.
A productive offseason in the weight room has made him quicker down the runway and more powerful off the pole. Combine that with an extra year of experience, and Rocky has moved his personal best to 14-4.
Only Grand Island’s Austin Telecky has done better in Class A, vaulting 15-¼ earlier this season. Rocky, however, beat Telecky two weeks ago at the Heartland Athletic Conference meet, a confidence-booster heading into state.
“I’m not where I want to be yet,” Rocky said. “The Southeast school record is 15-2, so my goal this season is 15-4. I know I can do it. It’s just a matter of putting it all together, and hopefully I can do that at state.”