Meet Paris Pijuan, nationally ranked pole vaulter and passionate music fan.
A senior for Westlake High boys’ track and field, Pijuan has gone from an average vaulter to one of the best in the nation.
The Warrior’s best jump before this season was 13 feet, 1 inch.
Pijuan put himself on the map last week after jumping 15-6 against Calabasas and Newbury Park at home.
The vault moved Pijuan to the No. 10 and No. 40 spots, respectively, in the DyeStat state and national rankings.
“I wasn’t taking pole vault serious at first,” Pijuan said. “I was OK my freshman and sophomore seasons, but I knew I could do a lot better. I decided to step up my game. I came into the season determined to clear 15 feet. Feels great to do that. Now I’m going for 16 feet.”
Pijuan took his game to the next level when he started training with Brooks Morris, a former standout pole vaulter at USC.
Pijuan recently received a scholarship from the Cal State Fullerton track and field squad. He said he’ll make a decision whether to accept or decline the offer by Monday.
The Warrior finished first in the pole vault at the Pasadena Games tournament last month.
He finished 13th at the Arcadia Invitational the first week of April.
“I didn’t do so well in Arcadia,” Pijuan said, “but it was fun to go up against the best pole vaulters in the country.”
He nabbed fourth place in the indoor state track and field meet at Fresno State in February.
Pijuan competes with a brace on his left ankle, which he fractured last year at practice. He missed the second half of the 2012 season and was sidelined for five months.
Rocky Peterson said Pijuan’s injury made the senior mentally tougher.
“He came back from the injury working really hard,” said Peterson, a long-distance runner for the Westlake boys’ squad. “He started going to seminars. He worked on his form all summer for four to five days a week.
“Paris has progressed from a good high school vaulter to an elite vaulter.”
Peterson and Pijuan have known each other since fifth grade, and they live near each other.
A 1,600-and 3,200-meter specialist, Peterson helped the Warriors capture a CIF-Southern Section Division 2 boys’ cross country state title in the fall.
“I know we’re in two totally different events, but we push each other,” Peterson said. “I was fortunate to win a state title, and that motivates Paris to do big things in pole vault.”
Pijuan also shines on the track.
He’s part of the 4×400 relay, which is undefeated in the Marmonte League. The Westlake relay squad has the second fastest time in the county, according to Pijuan.
Pijuan, who runs the 400 in 52 seconds, teams up with Jon Cantle, Mikey Giguere and Ryan Finch in the relay.
“I enjoy doing the 4×400,” Pijuan said. “We’re doing really well. We have a shot at winning league and competing at CIF. I’m really focused on pole vault, but I still make time to train for the 4×400.”
Pijuan hasn’t had much competition this season but will face talented pole vaulters at the Ventura County Track and Field Championships Fri., April 26 at Moorpark High.
Pijuan wasn’t the best pole vaulter on his team last season: that title went to Luigi Colella.
Colella transferred to Thousand Oaks this season and was recently cleared by the section to compete.
The Lancer jumped 16-feet against Royal last week. Colella is ranked second in California by DyeStat.
“He’s a great pole vaulter,” Pijuan said of Colella. “We’re friends, but I’m not going easy on him when I see him at the Ventura meet. It’s going to be a good challenge.”
Pijuan said he wants to compete for the Philippines Olympic team.
“That would be a dream come true,” he said, “but that’s a longterm goal. Right now I’m too focused on winning league and going to state. I want to end my senior season on a good note.”