ELSA — There’s just something about Edcouch-Elsa and pole vaulters.
Year in and year out, the Yellowjackets seem to produce some of the finest Valley pole vaulters. Just about every season, E-E sends a pole vaulter or two to regional competition and performs at a high level.
Two weeks ago at the Region IV-4A meet, Jose Padilla became the third ‘Jacket athlete to qualify for state competition, joining Roger Martinez (2009) and April Benavides (2009-10). Benavides became the first Valley female pole vaulter to bring home a gold medal in 2010. And now it’s Padilla’s turn to represent Edcouch-Elsa at this weekend’s Class 4A UIL State Track & Field championships in Austin after three cracks at regionals, including this year’s attempt.
The junior barely missed out going last year after ending tied for third, but because of some scratches was placed fifth.
“It feels good knowing I finally have my chance,” Padilla said. “It’s one year, but you never know what can happen in one year.”
Padilla came in second place at regionals, clearing 14 feet, six inches. A week earlier in the area meet, he jumped 14-8 to set a new school record broken from the 1990s. However, Padilla has been told by pole vault coach Jaime Ochoa that in order for him to have a chance to place high in the competition, he must try and clear at least 15-0.
“He will need to jump 15-6 to have an opportunity to medal and 15-0 to finish in the top six,” Ochoa said. “He understands in order to be good, you have to work hard.”
Padilla believes he can do it, “God willing.” The coaches will break down video with Padilla, very much like coaches study film with football players. Regardless with how Padilla does, Ochoa feels pretty good with the ‘Jacket pole vaulter’s opportunity to repeat as a state qualifier next year.
“He hasn’t reached his limits,” Ochoa said. “Only a junior, he still has a long way to go. If he’s healthy and gets more meat on those bones, he can very easily jump to the next level.”
But first things first, Padilla has this chance, this year to make something out of himself in the event. He understands it will be something new to him and intends to go full force, knowing there might not be a tomorrow.
“I will take advantage of this year and if God wants me to go again next year, I’ll go,” Padilla said. “I know what I’m going into. Some people are better, some people are okay.”