Warwick’s Uckermark takes well-earned break

WARWICK — While most high school track and field athletes have taken the summer off from competing, Warwick’s Todd Uckermark has stayed busy with his pole vault competition schedule.

The local champion took his talents to the U.S. Junior Olympic circuit and came home from the national championships last weekend in Baltimore with a seventh-place finish and all-American status.

“I believe I could have jumped better,” said Uckermark, who cleared 14 feet, 2 inches, “but I am content with a performance that I gave. It is a learning experience, and I’m just trying to get back into it for indoor season.”

Uckermark just wrapped up a 10-month training and competition cycle, from fall training through the indoor and outdoor seasons.

“I really love the sport of pole vault,” he said. “The more I can do it, the more I will. It has been a long time, the 10 months that I’ve been doing it, but I’ve loved every second of it. If I can give myself some more meets and some more time to improve before the indoor and outdoor season of next year, I’ll take it.”

But even Uckermark, 16, realizes it’s time to take a break.

“Even if you love something you have to take a break from it every now and then,” he said. “I’m going to take a month or so off and just work on my speed and work on my strength and then go back to the vault some time in September.”

Uckermark is looking forward to the time off, but he knows he won’t be able to completely shake the bug.

“I’m probably going to be sitting around one day and not know what to do with myself,” he said.

Since the high school season ended, Uckermark has attended two pole vault camps in the Northeast, and the opportunity to compete at nationals allowed Uckermark to meet, greet and share notes with fellow pole vaulters from around the country.

“Pole vaulters, we really help each other out,” he said. “We watched each other’s jumps and I did a bit of socializing. I talked to a few people and asked them how they felt about what they did and what they do to jump better.”

Similar to sports like gymnastics, athletes will often try new things during summer training before committing to a set way of doing things once the competitive season begins.

“When you get into the nitty-gritty of the season, the championship seasons of the indoor and outdoor, you shouldn’t really change much what you’re doing because that can affect your vault terribly,” he said. “But at the beginning of the season and during the later part of the summer you should try doing something different — who knows, it could work.”

Uckermark cleared 15 feet during the spring season, and he wasn’t particularly disappointed with the 14-2 showing in Baltimore. At least now he has a better idea of where he ranks in the nation as a rising junior.

Do the extra months of work really help out?

“I don’t know if it’s an advantage” compared to others who don’t train, Uckermark said. “But the more practice you put into something, the more it is going to show. I believe if you keep practicing it will show sooner or later.”

by: Ken McMillan


Todd Uckermark
Todd Uckermark

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