WAUSAU — One of the top boys pole vaulters in the Wisconsin Valley Conference made his college decision official Wednesday afternoon.
Wausau West senior John Cihlar signed a national letter of intent with Minnesota State, Mankato in a short ceremony in the lobby outside the school’s auditorium.
Cilhar is coming off a season in which he finished 11th overall in the Division 1 boys pole vault competition during the WIAA state track meet, clearing a career-best 14 feet in the event.
“(College) was always my hope,” said Cihlar, whose sister, Katy, is a freshman with the University of South Alabama women’s track team. “I started pole vaulting in eighth grade, and I just kind of found that I had a knack for it and really liked it. Probably since my freshman year I decided I really wanted to go to college for (track) and compete in (the pole vault).”
Cihlar, who finished second in the pole vault in the WVC indoor meet last spring and fourth in the outdoor meet, made his decision to attend Mankato after visiting both the south central Minnesota campus and the University of Sioux Falls in a weekend recruiting trip in late October.
“I visited the college, and I just really liked the campus,” Cihlar said. “I met some of the guys on the team there and just really felt comfortable and at home. I thought it would be a good fit for me.”
The recruiting process began with Cihlar sending out emails to various college coaches and eventually followed up with a phone call to Minnesota State men’s coach Jim Dilling to schedule a visit to the NCAA Division II program.
The Mavericks men’s program finished seventh in the NCAA Division II national outdoor meet last spring.
“It’s where I decided to go pretty much right away,” Cihlar said of Mankato. “They looked at some of my film and told me what I needed to work on. I have my goals on what I want to reach and hopefully I can get there.”
He is focused on going further than he did last spring.
“I want to be able to hit at least 15 feet,” Cihlar said. “I would be really disappointed in myself if I didn’t.”