INDIANAPOLIS — It’s been nearly 29 years, and no one at East Noble High School ever has pole vaulted higher than Phil Yuska. As a senior in 1984, Yuska set the school record and a won a state championship with a vault of 15 feet, 6 inches.
Turns out, Yuska was just getting started — in more ways than one.
Yuska, now 47, went on to pole vault at Purdue. In 1988, he qualified for the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Finals with a vault of 17 feet, 6 inches.
Now, he’s vaulted his way into the East Noble Hall of Fame. Yuska will be inducted Saturday before the start of Saturday’s home basketball game with Bellmont. Fellow inductees are former East Noble basketball standout Brad Miller and former runner Ralph Foote.
“I felt pretty humbled that they would think to do something for you,” Yuska said. “It’s pretty endearing.”
As a junior at East Noble, Yuska qualified for the state track and field meet, but did not reach the finals. He says he remembered watching the finals on television and seeing state champion Dale Gerke of Leo High School interviewed.
That’s where Yuska wanted to be as a senior.
“That really motivated me the entire year,” Yuska said. “I prepared for that meet a long time.”
Yuska’s hard work and dedication paid off with a state title a year later.
The experience taught him the kind of effort and perseverance it takes to succeed in not only athletics, but in life. He used those skills while at Purdue. He said he wasn’t the most gifted student, but managed to get his degree in mechanical engineering by using the lessons he learned in becoming a state champion pole vaulter.
“That preparation and hard work and dedication … carried through,” Yuska said.
Yuska now works as business development manager for Performance Services, an Indianapolis-based firm that specializes in retrofitting buildings to be more cost-efficient for heating and cooling, including green-energy alternatives. Yuska’s company recently designed energy-efficient retrofitting for a municipal building in Indianapolis.
His success, at least in part, can be traced back to pole vaulting. He said the formula he used to win a state title is a formula he still uses today: work hard, be mentally prepared and disciplined.
Yuska said it is important for young people to be lauded for successes on the athletic field, in the classroom or in some other victory.
“Kids need to have a sense of achievement in what they do,” Yuska said. “It really does instill a sense of confidence.”
Yuska started assisting an Indianapolis-area track team and its pole vaulters last spring. His two eldest daughters are runners and will be unable to attend Saturday’s induction ceremony because they have their first indoor track meet of the season that day.
Yuska and his wife, Sally, also have two elementary-age children.
Sally was a successful track runner at Purdue, and that’s how the couple met, Phil Yuska said.