Top area pole vaulters talk about their craft

ELKHART — Josh Rheinheimer started doing it upon entering high school because he was accustomed to “doing sort of weird things.”

Morgon Cosby started doing it way back as a fifth-grader, following in dad’s footsteps.

And Nate Raber does it even though, he insists, “I’m terrified of heights.”

“It” is pole vaulting, and pole vaulters around here are reaching new heights this season, literally.

Vaulters on at least three area boys track and field teams — Rheinheimer at Northridge, Cosby at Fairfield and Raber at Westview — have set school records within the last couple weeks.

Rheinheimer, in fact, broke a standard that stood for 22 years when he went 14 feet, 4 inches on April 22 at Warsaw to better Mike Steele’s 1991 Raider mark by an inch.

Cosby a few days later on April 25 against West Noble vaulted past Chase Pinion’s 2011 Falcon record by an inch when he went 13-9.

Then just Saturday, May 4, at Concord’s Kelly Relays, Raber scaled 15-4 to displace teammate Trey Kennedy’s 15-3 a year ago at the top of the Warriors’ all-time chart.

An able teammate to work with and battle with is one thing that Raber, Rheinheimer and Cosby happen to have in common, and each says he has benefited from that circumstance.

While Raber’s is Kennedy, Rheinheimer’s is fellow senior Devin Puckett, who’s gone 14 feet even, and Cosby’s is fellow junior Cameron Kitson, whose best is 13-6.

That trio of dynamite duos is merely part of a golden time for pole vaulting around here.

There have been other state-contending vaulters in recent years, too. Adding to the flavor has been Mark Hollis, one of the nation’s premier vaulters who happened to move to Elkhart a few years ago and has assisted at Memorial. And on the girls side, there’s South Florida recruit Sophie Brown, a leading state contender.

As for Rheinheimer, Cosby and Raber, like others, they’re not done yet as conference meet week arrives.


It was a friend of his mom’s who encouraged Rheinheimer to try pole vaulting as a freshman because “she knew I did snowboarding and was used to doing sort of weird things.”

The friend was Raider pole vault coach Bobby Lloyd’s wife, and Rheinheimer says Lloyd has since been instrumental in his development.

Now Rheinheimer plans to try out for pole vaulting at Purdue as a walk-on.

“It’s a weird feeling when you go upside down,” Rheinheimer said of perhaps track and field’s most distinct event, “and when you clear that bar, it’s a great feeling.”

Rheinheimer says breaking Steele’s long-standing record was “my goal for four years.”

Rheinheimer’s own mark might not stand nearly that long, and he doesn’t seem to mind too much.

“I think Devin might be on the verge of breaking it,” Rheinheimer said. “He got 14 and had an attempt at 14-4. His hips were over. He just didn’t release quick enough. We’re sort of trying to see if we can get ourselves a tie so they can put both our names up (on the record board). The goal for both of us by the end of the season is between 14-6 and 15.”


Also a standout wrestler who high jumps for the Falcons and has done running events, Cosby nonetheless calls pole vaulting “my favorite sport.”

“My dad got me into it and I love it,” Cosby said.

His father, Mark, set school records at Sturgis High and Grand Valley State University in Michigan. Cosby believes his father’s all-time best is 16-3.

“I was pretty excited about (breaking Pinion’s record),” Cosby said, “but I still want to get to 14-6 this year because my dad got 14-6 as a junior and I’m trying to match what he got. He got 15-1 (as a senior), so next year I’d like to match that.”

Cosby hasn’t decided if he’ll want to keep pole vaulting after high school, but he’s embracing the sensation for now.

“I fee like it’s the most challenging thing,” Cosby said, “and I just find it fun to get up in the air and fall.”


While Cosby started out with a predisposition toward pole vaulting, Raber started out some 180 degrees the other way.

“I got stuck in this because nobody else would do it for us at the time, and, I’m terrified of heights, so I’m not sure how I do it,” Raber said.

“I’m serious. If I were to go up there,” Raber said, pointing during the Kelly Relays to a lookout tower, “I’d be terrified.”

The senior, though, is pacified by knowing he doesn’t have to remain up high, and that there’s a sof

landing involved.

“I guess I like the rush a little bit,” Raber said.
Raber says he’s not too concerned about records, and is quick to point out that unlike himself, Kennedy is just a junior.

Raber and brother Nic are twins. Both have also competed in basketball and soccer for Westview, but Nic doesn’t pole vault, opting instead for running events.

Both plan to attend Indiana Wesleyan, where the allegedly terrified Nate plans to continue pole vaulting.


Rheinheimer Vaulter Magazine
Rheinheimer Vaulter Magazine

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