VILONIA — The Wyatt household in Vilonia is the pole-vault capital of Arkansas. Together, identical twins Trey and Kyle have one indoor and three outdoor state championships. Trey, older by a minute, won the Class 5A outdoor championship as a freshman and sophomore and the indoor as a junior; Kyle won outdoors in May as a junior and took the Meet of Champs title a week later.
“They’re the best in the state,” Vilonia coach Michael Stout said.
Trey has the better personal record: 16 feet, 3/4 inch. Kyle’s best is 15-10.
And those numbers should continue to go up.
“Both are very athletic and even more competitive, especially with each other,” said Morry Sanders, founder of the Arkansas Vault Club in Montgomery County, where the twins train. “They put a lot of time, effort and miles into their improvement. They make the four-hour round trip from Vilonia to Black Springs at least once, and sometimes twice, a week, and it has paid off.
“We’re making some adjustments right now in the offseason. If they keep training hard and training smart, they could both be 17-footers by the end of the spring.”
Sanders should know. The first Arkansas high school pole vaulter to clear 16 feet, he jumped 16-8 before graduating from Lake Hamilton in 1988 and went on to become a 17-5 jumper for Arkansas State.
Stout said he has already fielded interest in the brothers from various Division I universities, including Arkansas, Alabama and Missouri.
“I think they can compete with the top ones in the nation,” he said. “I think the sky’s the limit.”
The twins, sons of Lorene and Terry Wyatt, started vaulting when they were seventh-graders on Vilonia’s middle-school team.
“We were the crazier twins who’d do the more extreme stuff, with flips, and our coaches thought we’d be good at it,” Trey said.
Kyle remembered wanting to try something new. He said they were pretty even from the beginning — and not very good.
“We were winning most of our meets, but we were just average for our age,” he said.
But when they started working with Sanders and Steve Irwin at the Arkansas Vault Club as freshmen, the twins’ performances took off.
“Our PRs (personal records) went up tremendously — like 3 feet,” Kyle said.
Working with other AVC members such as Andrew Irwin, now a sophomore at the University of Arkansas and the NCAA indoor champion as a freshman, also helped.
“It’s someone to look up to,” Trey said. “It gives you a goal. Growing up behind Andrew, I want to be as good or better.”
Trey remembered that he learned to bend a pole during their freshman indoor season. Early in that season, he went to AVC, and he improved his record consistently that spring. He won the conference meet outdoors with a jump of 12-4 and became a state champion with 13-4.
Kyle was fifth at the state meet as a freshman and second to his brother as a sophomore. This spring indoors, Trey won, and Kyle was runner-up (with a PR of 15-2) before Kyle went 15-10 outdoors (another PR) to win his first state title, bettering his brother in a tie-breaking jump-off for the gold medal. Trey’s 15-2 was good for second. Kyle went on to win the Meet of Champs with a 15-4 vault.
They agreed that their competitiveness helped them both.
“For sure,” Kyle said. “We push each other in every sport we play. When he gets better, I get better. We’re inspiration for each other.”
“It’s always a battle between us two,” he said. “We always want each other to do the best we can. We’ve never had a point that I want to beat him so bad it’s a big deal.”
Both agreed that if they can’t win, they want the other to win.
“The rivalry is just unbelievable, but when I won [state] this year, he was happy for me, and the last two years when he won, I was happy for him,” Kyle said.
Trey said he was better earlier, with Kyle’s major improvement coming within the last year after his recovery from a back injury.
“I haven’t improved a whole bunch this year, but my personal record is 2 3/4 inches better,” Trey said.
Kyle agreed that the gap between the two has narrowed.
“We’re pretty close,” he said. “He used to be better, but I’ve progressed a lot this year. We’ve been neck and neck.”
The twins also play football for the Eagles — Kyle is a quarterback/running back; Trey is a cornerback/safety. Both are good students. Stout said he could distinguish between the two “a little bit,” adding that one of them (Kyle) wears his hair a little longer.
Both said Arkansas is at the top of their college wish list.
So what is the recipe for their vault success?
Trey said being coachable is a big deal.
“When the coach says, ‘Fix this one thing,’ doing it right away and doing it consistently is important,” he said. “Me and Kyle are pretty good at fixing things quick.”
Stout, the twins’ high school coach, said their success has been a combination of everything.
“They’re fearless,” he said. “That’s a big deal, especially once they get as good as they are — you’re up over 14, 15 feet, hanging onto an inch-and-a-half pole. They started having success and really bought into it, and one of the keys is they are able to go down to coach Sanders quite often.
“They are very dedicated, and it pays off. You don’t find that every day in 15-, 16-, 17-, 18-year old young men.
“Their senior year should be fun. They’re definitely the best to ever come out of Vilonia, by far.”
by: Donna Lampkin Stephens
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