Wednesday, December 22, 2010

7 left practie jump 12-21-10

practice jump from the 21st, bungee at 18' from 7 lefts

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Monday, December 20, 2010

GVSU meet and practice video

Well I jumped at Grand Valley State University on Friday. I wanted to do the meet to have some fun, jump from a short run and use it as a glorified practice. Warmups started and I was just moving through all the poles in my bag! I hadnt jumped on any of my new 5 meter poles and i was able to jump on all of the ones that i brought! I ended up jumping 5.40m/17'9". I wish it could have been higher but i had big pole and grip PR's I ended up on a 5m/16'5" 210lb holding at 16'3"! I usually only hold that high from my long run so to be able to do that now from 7 is huge! That will mean as soon as i go back to 9lefts i should have no problem getting my grip near the top of the 5.10m/16'9" poles.

Here is a video from yesterday of practice, Im really trying to get confident with my approach and finishing every jump on the top. THis was the best one of the day.

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Another Video from Practice today and some big news!

Weve been back at 7 lefts for about 2 weeks now, really nailing down the approach first and then working on the vault.  Well i was getting a little frustrated about how i was jumping, it just didnt feel right, I was just missing it.  I couldnt really put my finger on it until last night while watching video.  So today i started practice by just doing half drills where i just worry about the first half of the vault and not about the second half.  Heres the first video, bungee is at 5.90m/19"4" just trying to get used to committing to the jump.

This video is one of the last ones of practice.  Bungee is 5.60m/18'4", finally starting to put it together.

My big news is that i just found out i am going to be competing at Sergey Bubka's competition in Donetsk, Ukraine on February 12th.  I will probably be heading to Europe directly from The Pole Vault Summit in Reno, Nevada.  I will do a few meets in Europe leading up to the big one in Donetsk.  I will update as soon as i have more information. 

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Buy a T-shirt for Christmas!

Alright I have the new T-Shirts in, I ordered about 55 more t-shirts in all adult sizes.  Thes shirts would make an awesome Christmas gift for any vault or sports enthusiast.  Be a real part of this amazing journey!

I am selling them for $15 each which includes shipping.  So if you would like one, make a donation of $15 or more, make sure to specify which shirt you would like and what size,  Ive even added a button strictly for T-shirts on the top left. 

Also if you would like to support my training fund even more, any donation of $35 or more will include an autographed card and a personalized 8x10 poster. 

Always Pursuing -Mark-



Tuesday, December 7, 2010

video from monday's practice

New video from practice on monday. Not the best jump, but were just trying to kind of tie it all together. Should have some more videos tomorrow after practice.

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Boardwalks, and my relentless pursuit

I'm sitting on a shuttle heading back to the airport in virginia beach after 4 days of meetings, presentations and of course fellowship with a lot of like minded people. Yesterday I was asked to do a Q&A with the emerging elites, the guys who are right out of college and trying to make it as a pro athlete. During the talk I tried to convey my experience thus far, which many of you know was one of grief, pain, frustration, agony, and a bit of victory. Most of the questions were fairly easy to answer, regarding training, competing, agents, and nutrition but one question really made me look back and reminisce. I was asked have I ever thought about quitting, giving it all up. When I thought back to my first 2 years out of college, on my own, buried in debt, student loans and a constant fear of mail it nearly brought me to tears. I remember specifically in 08/09 when I was really on my own working for UPS loading planes in the freezing cold, breaking my back for $8/hr and having no idea how I was going to pay my credit card bill, phone, and rent and still try to eat and train. I would go home freezing cold, soaked to the bone, go into my room and cry, asking God if this really what I should be doing. I felt and still feel that this is God's plan for my life, so I felt I had reason to be mad for my struggle. A college in Michigan had told me they would give me 100 dollars travel and 500 dollars every time I jumped 18', I was ecstatic, they had meets every weekend for about 6 weeks! I thought I can jump 18ft easy, so I quit my job, taking away the only reliable income I had. I went to every one of those meets in michigan and jumped 17'9" every time! I went to these meets depending on that 600 dollars to pay my bills and not file bankruptcy at the age of 22. I never won that money, but God had a plan to teach me that no matter how low I got he always had me in his arms, and every month when I had no idea where the money would come from, He provided.

I still am in debt, I still have student loans, but I also have the most supportive family and friends, that I could ever dream of. This story is not unlike many other vaulters and athletes who are relentlessly pursuing their dream. Did I want to quit? HELL YES! But I remembered as a kid watching Michael Johnson, Maurice Green, Nick Hysong, and many others drape that American flag over their shoulders and run their victory lap. That is what keeps me going, that is what keeps me pushing, pulling, scraping, and fighting for the dream of wearing the USA jersey.

After all that, my drive is even stronger, and my dream is that much closer. Believe me its still not easy, it is easier, mostly because my wife believes in my dream as much as I do, and sacrifices so that I can continue my pursuit. (I love you honey, SO much!) One reason I tell you all this is so that you know you are more important than you know! Your support is so crucial! I literally would not be able to do this without you.

Coming home now I am eager to get back to training tomorrow. Eager to continue on this road which has been very bumpy at times but is starting to even out. I have learned to stop, just stop and trust in the Lord with all my heart, lean not on my own understanding, to follow Him in all my ways and He will direct my path.

Always Pursuing,

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Video from practice today

Great little video of practice today, really working on digging the shoulders under the hips as quickly as possible.

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Saturday, November 20, 2010

5 Left and Hang Clean Baby!!!

Couple new videos from practice Friday. First one is 5 left approach, 15'7" 195lb Pacer Carbon Weave pole. Working on quick last 2 steps and hitting the takeoff with a solid body.

This video is Hang Clean 3x 265lbs, 2nd set, first set was 3x255lbs. THis is really where all that power you gain in the squat, lunge, every lift you do comes into play.  Your transferring strength into power and explosiveness. 

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Couple new videos from practice

Ok I have had a lot of positive feedback about all the new videos, so im going to try to keep it up. I have had one response to my windshield wiper challenge, scott elliot was able to knock out 35 solid wipers! I asked scott if there was anything else he would like to see on the blog and he said he would like to see more drills. This video is a 4 left straight pole drill but this time theres a mini hurdle on the runway. The hurdle here is set at about 10'6" here were working on cycling the legs through very quickly on the last 2 steps to pop up off the ground.

This video the hurdle is set at about 12', same thing getting the legs through quick to jump up off the ground, maintaining a solid body at takeoff as if your going to be punched in the stomach. Now if you want to try this at your practice i would suggest starting with a shirt or towel on the ground, and working up to a mini hurdle.

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Thursday, November 11, 2010

First day on bent pole!

first day bending the pole! everything weve been working on straight pole has transferred to a bent pole which i am very excited about, this is my 3rd jump of the day. 15ft 190lb pacer carbon holding about 14'6"

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Back from Vegas, back to work!

Got back from Vegas Monday, had a great time and even learned a few things.  Its always good to get together with a bunch of people who are all trying to do the same thing you are, that way you can talk to them and find out whats working and whats not. 

Now to the good stuff!  I just got a new camera for my birthday, i got the Kodak Playsport, its a lot like the Flip but actually is waterproof!  My birthday is not until the first of December but I know you guys have been getting restless wondering where the new videos are at.  So i took some at practice today of some vaults and also at gymnastics. This first one is my last drill of the day, 4 lefts, 13'2" grip, working on hitting the takeoff with a solid body. 

These Windshield Wipers are just a taste of the core we do at gymnastics, hanging here from parallel bar, keep your arms straight, lift your feet to your hands and go back and forth trying to go as far as you can on each side.

So heres the challenge. Try this at home, you can use a high bar, squat rack, or just about anything you can hang from. See how far you can go from side to side and how many you can do without letting your feet come away from your feet. Post the video on youtube,facebook or where ever, comment on this post with the link, and i will choose the winner. And who knows maybe along the line there will be prizes!

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Friday, November 5, 2010

Heading to Vegas

Once again it has been a couple of weeks since my last entry, I have no excuses. Today we finish up our third week of fall training, its been good, really good. Like I talked about last time, it feels great mentally to get back at it and now physically my body is getting more and more used to the extra pounding. One thing that made workouts this week something to look forward to was we started vaulting! Monday we did 1 left drills into the sand working on a strong penultimate and really driving the right heal up into the hamstring at takeoff. We also moved over to the vault pit and got back to 2 lefts working on the same thing, seeing how high we can grip on a stiff(non bending) pole and still get into the mats, my best Wednesday was 13'6". As I get better and better at the penultimate and driving everything up that number should go up.

We've also added some new lifts to our program including 3 step squats, an eccentric squat where you go down to about 60% pause for 3sec and try to explode back up. We also added some calf and shin exercises and amped up the handstands and ring work. Gymnastics on tuesdays has been going great, we did some giants this week as well as some nasty core that has just ripped me up.

I just landed in Las Vegas for the USATF jumps and throws summit. I don't know exactly everything that is planned but I do know it should be a great time of discussion and hopefully learn a few things while were here.

Always Pursuing,

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Check it out!!! My picture on the back cover of the Gill Athletics 2011 Catalog!   

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fall is here!

Well Fall is in the air, or its already here, I think it really snuck up on us here in Indiana.  The weather has been so nice for October, temps in the high 60's even this week.  The one thing I love about this time of year is the amazing colors from the leaves changing on the trees.  But the thing I look forward to most in the fall is preseason training!  Thats right training for the 2011 season has begun!  Im pretty excited because even tho fall training means pain, suffering, and hard work, it also means competition is soon to come, and i know all the hard work i put in now pays huge dividends in those comps.  It also means we are one year closer to 2012 and the London Olympics!  Now its easy for me to tell people that Im training for the Olympics, because most dont understand the concept of USA Championships or World Championships which happen every year.  But in 2011 the World Championships in August is the main goal we are training towards.  Ive never made a world champ team, i was one spot away in '09 and even tho i won USA nationals in 2010 there wasnt an outdoor championships, only indoor.  Its crazy to think that Im training right now for a meet that is about 10 months away.

Now when i say fall training is just starting i mean the real work has just started this week.  Ive been doing basic conditioning work to stay in shape since the meet in Japan.  I had to take last week off because i was so privileged to be able to have LASIK surgery done, and i cant tell you enough how awesome it is!  Boling Vision Center of Elkhart agreed to help me in my pursuit and I cant thank them enough!

We jumped right into it Monday, no messing around!  This is what my workout looked like. 

Warmup, stretching, running drills and dynamic stretching
8x30m sprints working on running mechanics
4x20m bounds
10min bike
Box Squat 4x7 @70%
Hang Clean 4x7 @70%
Lunge Squats 3x3@25%
Squat Spectrum 3x30secs  You can see details here
Hurdle Mobility
Hamstring work on Yoga Ball 4x5
12min Core switching exercises every 30 sec
Ring holds 2x60sec 
Handstands 1x60sec
Some Balance and Rehab work, and stretching

This is pretty close to what Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays look like for most of the Fall.  Tuesdays and Thursdays are a little different but not any easier.  Ill post Tuesdays workout a little later, but right now I gotta eat lunch and get over to school to workout at 1215. 
Always Pursuing -Mark-

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Super Meet, Kawasaki Japan

Well i just finished my final meet of the 2010 season, not gonna lie feels pretty good to be finished.  It has a been a long, but amazing season, my best ever.  So let me tell you how the meet went.

Like i said in my last couple of posts the last couple of weeks have been really low key.  Ive been really taking it easy, vaulting about once a week and just doing some light cardio to keep my legs going.  Well because of this Im not in the best shape, which i wasnt really trying to be in.  That along with the 12 hour flight here 2 days ago didnt add up to the best situation for the meet today.

I came into the meet with a very relaxed attitude.  I wasnt expecting a whole lot and so i just wanted to try and have some fun, make a few bars, and not get hurt.  Well warmups started and it quickly became evident that making a few bars wasnt going to be the easiest thing ever, and i might actually have to dig down deep just to make those couple of bars.  The wind was swirling and my legs werent feeling all that responsive, so i decided to come in to the comp at 17ft.  My first 2 attempts were pretty bad, i didnt even attempt to make the bar.  Third time i came down, had a decent takeoff and was able to make the bar pretty easily. 

I decided to pass to 17'9" because I felt like i didnt have a ton of energy, whenever the wind is bad I have to work twice as hard to make a jump.  I came down on my first attempt and had a much better run and made the bar!  I was pretty happy since i wasnt feeling great and i had struggled at 17ft. 

I knew i was going to go to the next pole, and i was kind of hoping the wind would get a bit better so i decided to pass to 18'4".  There were still 3 or 4 people in the competition and i was sitting in 2nd place.  On my 2nd attempt i got a pretty good wind and had a pretty good jump, but i just barely knicked it coming down and it fell.  Then on my 3rd attempt, I was the last in the order and noone else had made it, so if i made it I would win.  I got another decent wind, barreled down the runway, and on my 2nd to last step i got a cramp in my calf.  I finished the jump and thought for sure i was going to make it, but again i grazed it on the way over and it came down. 

So that was it, I was pretty frustrated that i couldnt make that last bar since i had 2 really good jumps at it, but still happy to make a few bars.  Im pretty sure i finished 2nd to a little Japanese guy who made 18'.  I come home tomorrow and am really looking forward to a few weeks off.  But then the real fun begins again, with fall training and all that entails.

I want to thank all of you for taking an interest in me and my journey through this year, its been a ton of fun to be able to share it with all of you, and i hope that you enjoyed it as well.  Dont worry im not going anywhere, ill still be pursuing my ultimate goal and hope to share it with all of you. 

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Off to Japan!

Well I'm currently in chicago, I had to go to midway airport an pick up my poles because they said there wasn't any way they could get them to me. I of course disagreed and told them I've put poles on anything and everything, I used to own a Honda CRX and would strap poles to the side, now that's something. I stayed with adam pierson last night and were currently on the way to Ohare airport for my final meet of the season in Kawasaki Japan! I've never been to Asia at all so I'm pretty excited for the chance to go. I will have my blackberry on me and will be able to chat via bbm or if you have Yahoo messenger I can chat on that as well, also through email. I will be in Japan from thursday until monday. I will try to upload lots of pictures to facebook while I'm there.

Always Pursuing,

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Pueblo fair vault

I had a great time at the Colorado state fair vault last night! Another just great event put on by Mark Pierson out in Pueblo, Colorado. The event was in the middle of the fair, the runway was fast and a bit downhill, I felt effortless running down the runway. The vault got started around 530, my warmups went fairly well, I was running well and my takeoff was out. The only problem was that I wasn't at all used to the altitude, it wasn't an issue with my jumps but it took me a lot longer to recover after every jump, this would come to bite me in the end.

I came into the competition at 17ft along with Rory Quiller, still in the meet were Sam Pierson, Levi Keller, and Mike Arnold, who all went to Idaho State University. I made 17 easily on my first attempt as did almost everyone else. The bar went up to 17'6", this time I came down the runway and hit the pole really good and just hit the bar off on the way up. I came down my 2nd attempt on a bigger pole and made the bar easily. Now Rory and I were the only ones to make 17'6" so we went up to 18'. Both Rory and I made the bar on our first attempts! We had quite the little competition going. Next was 18'6" and by this time I was really feeling tired and just couldn't catch my breath after every jump. I had gone up poles to my 5.10m 13.2 and I put a really solid jump together on my 2nd and just barely grazed the bar on the way over and it came down. We went to third attempts and I was really struggling now, my mouth was dry, I was breathing hard and just didn't feel like I had a lot of energy left. I ended up being under on my takeoff and couldn't finish the jump. So we went to a tie breaker, we both got another shot at 18'6". Rory missed his 4th attempt so I was excited, I had mustered up all the energy I had left, came down hit a sweet takeoff, swung up and had a ton of height on the bar but I came down it just barely and hit it off.

Rory and I continued to battle it out for first, we attempted 18'3" 18' and 17'9 with neither of us able to make the bar. I have never been more exhausted at a meet in my life. I felt like I had been running 400's and then was attempting to vault. After my last jump at 17'9" in which I rebent the pole after nearly coming down in the box, I called it a day, it was really just starting to get dangerous for both of us especially me. Rory and I decided to split the 1st and 2nd place prize money and we ended up tieing for 1st.

Overall I had a great time at my first meet in Colorado. I will definitely try to do more to counteract the altitude difference if possible next time. I'm in the car heading to the airport now, were cutting it a little close on time but hopefully. I will make it back to Elkhart tonight, if I don't Amanda will probably beat me up, so keep your fingers crossed.

Also I did sell about 10 tee-shirts, and that was about all to spectators. I was pretty happy with that since a lot of the vaulters from earlier didn't stick around. Which just blows my mind, if I had a chance to watch someone vault over 18 feet when I was in high school I would have jumped all over it. So I do have more tee-shirts left if you would like to order one. If you have alreadyu put your order in those will be in the mail Tuesday, since the post office is closed tomorrow. Again thank you all for your support, I truly would not be able to this without you.

Always Pursuing,

Saturday, September 4, 2010

In Pueblo, Colorado

Alright the last few weeks have been going pretty well, nice and relaxing. I attempted to jump at a fair vault in Michigan, but my back had spasmed earlier that week and so I didn't jump well, but we still had a great time. Last weekend I went up to Chicago and visited my good friend Adam Pierson and his girlfriend Ellen. I met Adam back in college through my coach Wally. Adam was a vaulter who grew up in Bournonnais, and at the time was living in Texas as a professional vaulter. I went and visited him a few times and we soon became great friends. So Amanda and I went to Chicago and just had a great time relaxing and enjoying the great company.
My training the last couple of weeks has included vaulting about once a week, some basic endurance stuff, and I've started doing some very basic gymnastic stuff. Just trying to build up some strength and learn some new skills.
I have some great news! Boling Vision Center in Elkhart has agreed to perform Lasik vision surgery for me for free! I have been wearing contacts for about 12 years and I can't tell you how many times I have had problems with my contacts during meets. I had my first consultation last week and I have my surgery set for October 11th.

I am writing now from Pueblo, Colorado, in about 5 hours I'm gonna be jumping at the Colorado state fair. Should be a fun little competition, there are a few guys from Idaho state jumping so it should be a pretty good competition. I have been feeling good in practice lately and think I should be able to jump a pretty good bar today, hopefully even get some jumps at 19ft.
Always Pursuing,

Monday, August 16, 2010

Buy a T-shirt for Christmas!

Hey Guys!
Alright I have the new T-Shirts in, I ordered about 55 more t-shirts in all adult sizes.  Thes shirts would make an awesome Christmas gift for any vault or sports enthusiast.  Be a real part of this amazing journey!

I am selling them for $15 each which includes shipping.  So if you would like one, make a donation of $15 or more, make sure to specify which shirt you would like and what size, 

Also if you would like to support my training fund even more, any donation of $35 or more will include an autographed card and a personalized 8x10 poster. 

Always Pursuing -Mark-


Friday, August 13, 2010

Jammin and Jumpin broadcast

I will be on ESPN radio at 515pm central time today talking about the jammin and jumpin street vault tomorrow. The street vault will also be broadcast live on the internet tomorrow. You can find links to both at the website

Friday, August 6, 2010

Grand Haven Beach Vault and Gill Factory Vault

Oh man am I behind! Its been about 3 weeks or a month since my last post and I have to apologize again for my tardiness. I really don't have any excuses for not blogging since I can do it right from my phone, so I won't give any, my new goal is to update at least once a week no matter how brief.

So with that out of the way ill get to the good stuff. I came back from Europe on the 14th of July traveled to the Grand Haven Beach Vault in Grand Haven Michigan on the 16th. The beach vault is really where I started my professional career in 2007. Since the vault is right on the beach of Lake Michigan the wind that comes off the lake is pretty strong and in 2007 the wind ended up being right in our face at about 15mph. Everyone dropped to a short run and I ended up winning the competition and jumped 17ft from 6 lefts, at the time my best was only 17'6". In 2008 I went to the beach vault coming off a season of jumping 18'10", and qualifying for the Olympic trials. I had attempted to alter my run mid-way through the year which turned out to be a bad decision, I ended up no-heighting at the beach vault. So returning this year I had much bigger expectations. The vault started with warm weather and a decent tail/cross wind which as warm ups went on turned into a cross-wind. This is especially hard to deal with because the higher you jump the longer and heavier poles you need and the wind pushes those bigger poles around a lot more than smaller ones. I decided to enter the competition at 17ft to be sure I would make a height since the wind was tough. I made that on a pretty crappy jump but it doesn't matter how pretty it is as long as the bar stays up. The next height was 17'6", at this time there were about 3 or 4 guys left. I made the bar easily on a better jump. No other guys ended up making the bar so I had won the meet! I decided to continue at 18 ft since there were still a few girls jumping and I wanted to give the crowd a little bit of a show. But after being in the sun for a few hours I was really getting exhasuted and running out of energy. I came down the runway on my first attempt and for whatever reason the pole slipped out of hand, I came out unhurt but a bit unhappy. I made a little adjustment on my run and on my second attempt I cleared 18ft by about 8 inches. The meet record was 18'6" so for my next height I decided to go for the record and put it up to 18'7". By this time I was pretty dog tired and new I only had a few jumps left in me. I came down on my second attempt and something felt off off the ground so I nearly bailed the jump but I continued the jump, went upside dow, completed the turn and before I knew it I was falling down to the mats and the bar was still there! I was pretty happy to be able to jump that high even though I was tired and hadn't jumped that well at the meet.

Next was the Gill Factory Vault in Champaign Illinois. This is a great meet because it is held at the exact place where the poles are made. Were able to tour the factory and see from start to finish how our poles are put together, I learn something new every time I go on the tour. We jumped on saturday around noon. Warm ups started great for me we had a sweet tailwind and I was moving through poles easily. I even took up the 13.2 5.10m pole in warmups and had a great jump at a 19ft bungee. The competition started at 17ft, I decided to come in at 17'9 since warmups went so well. Right as the bar went up to 17'9 the wind did a total 180 degree turn and was straight in our face. Immediately everyone was struggling and noone was making the bar. I came down on my second attempt was about a foot under on the takeoff but made a really good clearance and made the bar. Next we went up to 18'1" i stayed on the 5m 13.3 flex since the wind was still bad. I had a pretty good jump and made the bar easily. I took a few more jumps at 18'5 and 18'9 but couldn't make it. I was a bit frustrated just because the conditions hindered me from jumping my best. But I still came away with the win and made a little money.

Right now I'm on my way to the Clovis street vault in Fresno California.

Always Pursuing,

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Just found this article on Athletes For Hope from late May

Mark Hollis Hosts Pole Vaulting Workshop for Group from Salvation Army

Mark Hollis Hosts Pole Vaulting Workshop for Group from Salvation Army
On Tuesday, May 25th, Mark Hollis reunited with the Elkhart Salvation Army, where he had recently been to work with the children and teach them about his pole vaulting experiences. This time the children took a trip to Memorial High School where Mark coaches pole vaulting. There they were able to see for themselves what Mark’s job is like. Mark built off his last visit with the kids, reviewing the basics of his sport, and discussing his journey. Then he demonstrated a variety of pole vaulting techniques, impressing the children with his skills. Lastly, the kids eagerly participated in different drills that Mark taught them. It was a very special experience for the children to see Mark pole vault, and they loved having the opportunity to try it out for themselves.

More Pictures From Mark's Visit

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Rottach Egern and Heusden

Alright Ive had 2 meets since my last post on Greece, one went really well and the other not so much, but sometimes thats the way it goes, and all you can do is try to learn from both the good and the bad. 

We arrived in Rottach-Egern, Germany on the 2nd of July, Rottach is one of about 4 villages that surround a lake deep in the heart of Bavarian Germany.  There was a mountain stream running through our hotel that was probably around 45 degrees that we got in everyday we were there to ice our legs and help them recover, it was awesome, colder than anything else ive ever been in.  The day before the meet we went up on the side of this moutain and had a tradition bavarian meal, which included music, sausage and cheese, and those riccola guys with the huge horns.  All of this while looking over the lake and the villages below, just beautiful. 

We vaulted on the 4th of July, right in the middle of this town, it was one of the best set up street vaults ive done, the runway was great, the wind was at our backs the whole time we jumped and the crowd was pretty awesome.  I might also just be saying this because it was the best meet of my life.  The whole day leading up to the competition i had a good feeling about the meet and how i was going to jump.  Like i said in my last post, i used the meet in greece to try out the longer poles and try to get a feel for them.  Well i went into this meet knowing i could jump on the 5.10m poles i just didnt really know when.  So i started warmups on my regular poles, and was feeling awesome!  I was getting thrown off the tops of every pole i was jumping on, so by the end of warmups i had jumped on the 5.10m 13.5flex and even taken up the 13.2 once. 

The meet started at about 5.10m 16'9" I think, because warmups went so well i passed to 5.45m 17'9" my first jump I made the bar by about a foot and a half.  Since that went so well and i knew i was going up a pole i decided to pass to 5.65m 18'6" to conserve energy to try and vault a personal best.  I made 5.65 by about a foot, and decided to jump at 5.70m 18'8" since i hadnt jumped it this year and I was going up to the 5.10 13.2 and wasnt too sure where to put the standards.  First one i had lots of height but went off to the right and missed, second was pretty good i just came down on the bar.  So its down to third attempt at 5.70m at this point i think 3 guys had already made it so i was sitting in 4th or so, I was standing on the back off the runway trying to get pumped up and the DJ puts on this Bavarian song with horns and accordions HAHA.   I got the crowd going clapping it up, came down the runway and had just a perfect jump, came a little off the pole but got it right back under me and had a clean clearance.  It always feels good to jump a season best but the thing i really wanted was that personal best.

The bar goes up to 5.75m 18'10" which is my current PB which i jumped in 2008 at the university of Illinois, so its been a little while since i had been back up there, and to tell you the truth it was starting to eat at me.  I knew i was capable of jumping higher but the results had just not come.  So first attempt i come down with the 5.10m 13.2 and its way to small, i nail the bar on the way up.  I have one more pole in my bag, a 5.10m 12.8flex which is a pretty big pole.  I grab it, tape it up, get on the runway come screaming down the runway, probably faster than i ever have and make the bar cleanly!!!!!!!!!!! Pandemonium breaks out, not only from me screaming and nearly crying from the relief of finally jumping it again but i had just broke the meet record!    Noone else had jumped the bar, 2 guys passed the height and went up to 5.80m 19ft  and the others went out.  So the bar goes up to 5.80m and Rafael Holdzeppe comes down and makes the bar first attempt, what a jerk haha,  I had 3 really good tries at it and had about 6 inches over the bar but just came down on it.  So i was kinda bummed i didnt make that next bar but still happy with the way i jumped. 

We left Rottach the next day and traveled to Munich where we spent 5 days with Jeff Ryan, and American vaulter who is living and training in Munich for the summer.  We had a great time filled with training at the German Olympic training center, which was pretty cool.  We were also able to go to the public viewing of the semifinal World Cup game between Germany and Spain in the Olympic Stadium.  There were about 40,000 people there to see it, and even tho Germany lost it was still a great time. 

Friday we took the train from Munich to Hasselt, Belgium which took around 8 hours.  We jumped in Heusden, Belgium the next day.  The track was nice the pits were nice and runway felt pretty good.  There was a headwind the entire competition that really starts to mess with your run, I came in at 5.30m 17"5 and was able to make it easy 2nd attempt.  I passes to 5.50m 18ft and just wasnt hitting the takeoff very well and ended up coming down on the bar 3 times.  So i was pretty dissapointed with how i jumped, but i realize thats how things go, the best can jump well no matter the conditions so i know that i still have work to do.  I did get a spasm in my back in Munich on Wednesday so that probably had something to do with it as well. 

Now were here in Liege, Belgium for my final meet of this trip.  It could be tricky the wind looks pretty strong, and yesterday the winds were swirling in the stadium a bit, but hopefully they wont affect us too much.  we vault at 7:50pm local time, 1:50pm eastern time.  My back is still bothering me a bit but hopefully when i start moving around it will loosen up.  Im excited for the meet but im more excited about coming home to see my wife who i havent seen in over 2 weeks and our first anniversary is on Sunday.  Alright i will have a long plane ride home tomorrow to blog so im gonna do it, I will have something on here that says how i did.

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Friday, July 2, 2010


Well I flew to Athens Greece on monday from chicago, I left at 2pm and landed in Athens at 2pm the next day, and I don't think I slept at all. Then after I landed I got on a bus for 3 and a half hours to get to Patra which is where the meet was. The meet was on wednesday in the afternoon so at least I had a little time to get some rest. Well I woke up the next morning and felt like I had been sitting on a plane for about 14 hours.
We went to the track at about 5 and were able to warm up inside which was nice since it was pretty hot outside. Warmups started and my legs just felt a bit heavy but I did my best to work through it. The plan was since the meet was appearance money only and no prize money that I would make a low bar on my usual pole and then go up to the 5.10m poles right now I'm 5m but to get to the next level the 5.10's will help a lot. So I came in at 5.30m 17'5", and made it first attempt, the next bar was 5.45m 17'9" so I went up to a 5.10m 13.5 flex, now since my legs weren't feeling that great my run wasn't that great but I knew that the pole was just the right size and after making a few adjustments I made the bar on my third attempt. The next bar was 5.55m 18'2", and I had a few good attempts at it but couldn't keep the bar up. I finished third behind Jeremy Scott and Fabian Shultz, a german vaulter who both jumped 5.55m. I was fairly happy with the way I jumped especially since I wasn't feeling great and was still able to jump on that pole.
Yesterday we flew from Athens to Munich and then had a short bus ride to a little bavarian town Rottach-egern. Its right next to a lake and the mountains and the last 2 days have been relaxing. Yesterday after a jog we got into this mountain stream which must have been below 50 degrees, so it was perfect as an ice bath for the legs. Today we went into the stream again after a workout and then walked down to the lake where we found a great place to dive in, and it wasn't very warm but it was much better than the stream. We jump here on sunday, by we I mean Jeremy and I, along with Giovani Lanaro from Mexico, Jason Colwick another American and about 4 or 5 germans and a few others. It should be a great day its supposed to be warm and sunny and have a great taiwind for the vault. I've uploaded some pictures to facebook so you can check those out if you'd like. Alright time for bed.

Always Pursuing,

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Holy Moly I just won a national championship!!!  Im pretty sure it still hasnt quite set in but wow, it feels pretty good.

Ill do my best to run you thru it.  I wasnt sure quite what to expect here at Drake, the winds are notoriously unpredictable, but we lucked out and probably had the best day ever at Drake stadium, that is why it is so crazy that everyone struggled.  There was a kicking tailwind the entire competition, warmups started and i was feeling a little sluggish, my back was feeling much better but was just a little tight, and my legs just felt a little tired.  I was able to get things going as warmups went on and had a great jump on my last one and made 18'5" easy.  Since it was so hot i decided to not take any more warmup jumps and try to stay out of the heat.  I had about a half an hour until my first jump and must have just cooled down a bit because my first time down the runway i was a foot out on my mid and took off around 15ft which is just a bit too far away for me and couldnt really finish the jump.  For my next one i made sure i was ready to go and came down and had to cut my jump a bit short to be sure i wouldnt hit the bar going up, since it was only 17'6" i had plenty of room and skyed the bar.  The first 2 heights took forever, for whatever reason everyone was struggling, either with their run or pole selection.  The bar went up to 5.50m 18', I was 2 in the rotation and my first jump my run was off again, i came down and was way under and had no chance of making the bar, made the adjustment and second time i came down and blew the bar up with an easy make.  The next bar was 5.60m 18'5", and there were only 3 people in the competition, myself, Jason Colwick and Derek Miles, I was sitting in 3rd so i knew that these next couple of jumps would be key to where i ended up placing.  Jason had passed 5.60 so it was just me and Derek and i was first up.  I ran down the runway, and everything was good, my mid and takeoff were right on, I went up, had a great jump and made the bar by about 5 or 6 inches.  So at this time i was sitting in first place,  but i really thought it would take at least one more bar to win.  Derek made it on his second attempt and all three of us passed to 5.70 or 18'8". 
 I was first up and my first attempt i had a good jump but the pole was just too small, we decided to go up to the next pole on the next try which was a 5m 12.5flex, the biggest pole i had and hadnt jumped on it before.  My second attempt i had a really good jump and plenty of height but just came off the pole on the top and hit off on the way up.  Neither Derek or Jason had made it yet so i was still sitting in first at this time.  Third attempt i got a little amped and pushed myself under and got ripped off the ground and had no chance.  So now the agony of waiting for the 2 others to jump, Derek was first, came down and was a bit off on his plant and had no chance, then Jason came down, looked really good off the ground but hit on the way up!   I won!!!!  How crazy is that.  What a great day, I sure wished i couild have jumped higher but a win is a win.  In the big competitions like these most of the time its all about who can jump the best on that day, and yesterday it was me. 
Always Pursuing -Mark-

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Off to USA's

Well I'm on the road to Des Moines, Iowa site of the 2010 USA national championships and thought I would take this extra time I have to finally blog about the last couple of weeks. I apologize to everyone for not blogging in such a long time.
I think I left off right before the golden roof challenge in Innsbruck, Austria. The day of the meet was just beautiful, I think because the weather was so crappy the rest of the trip. I was feeling really good during warmups, my run was confident and I was moving through poles really easily and took up the 5m 13.3flex or about 210lbs which I haven't done that in about a year.
The meet started and I decided to come in at 5.20 or 17ft, to make sure I would make a height, and I know the meet directors in Europe love it when you make a bar by a lot of height. So I came in and made the bar easily. As the meet went on I could tell the crowd was getting behind me and I was turning into the favorite. I made 5.20, 5.40,17'9", 5.50,18', all on first attempts. Then the bar went up to 5.62m or 18'5" which was also the meet record. I came blazin down the runway on the 2nd biggest pole I brought hit the take off and before I knew it I had cleared the bar and the crowd was going wild. There were about 4 other guys attempting the bar but noone was really close accept for jeremy. Jeremy came down and made it on his third attempt but I was in the lead because of misses. The bar went up to 5.72, 18'9", I had 3 really good attempts at it but couldn't keep the bar up and neither could jeremy. So I ended up winning because of misses.

I came home the next day after a trip that started off a little rough but ended up being great.

After being home a week mary and I were looking for a meet to vault at so we decided to go to a little street vault in illinois called the tremont street vault. I ended up jumping really well, made 18'6".

Well now its just one day before nationals and I'm excited, I've been jumpig really well in practice and think I'm ready to jump well tomorrow. I will definately have an update up saturday, I promise this time.

Always Pursuing,
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Well its been a little while since my last post but the last week has been just crazy traveling around western europe.  After Hengelo we traveled straight to Cologne or Kolne Germany, spent the night with a German vaulter named Michel Fraun who traveled with us to Vienna for our next meet.
The meet in Vienna was the first street vault they have had there and the meet director George is a great guy and really took good care of us.  The day started off fairly nice just a bit cloudy and temps around 60.  We got to the meet around 3:00 and ended up riding this "Big Wheel" which was a huge ferris wheel that once was the biggest in the world.  After that there was a junior competition and we were couple with some up and comers from Austria, we helped to coach them and they helped to catch our mids and takeoffs which was kind of cool.  I know that when i was in high school if Tim Mack or Jeff Hartwig had helped me out and coached me a bit that would have been huge. 
After the Junior comp, we started warming up and wouldnt you know it just as we did the rain started to come down.  Nothing too heavy but consistent  enough that i had to tape my poles probably 3 times each.  The runway was about 15 ft too short for my long run and so i had to come from 8 steps.  I havent run from 8 in about 2 years, but a little suprisingly it was an easy transition.  I had a great warmup, got on the 13.6 and bombed about  16'6".  Since the rain was still coming down i decided to take it easy and come in at 5.15m or 16'11".  I came down and made the bar by probably a foot and a half or so. Next the bar went to 5.30m 17'5", i think it took me two jumps to make the bar after a few adustments, but by then i was on and feeling a pretty good day coming.  Bar went up to 5.40 and it was just Jeremy and myself in the comp.  I came down the runway first time and had a great jump, just hit the bar off on the way up.  I knew i had the bigger pole, but decided to stay on the smaller one and push the standards back, had another great jump, took off around 14ft and made the bar.  Jeremy had made it on his first so he was in the lead going to 5.50 18ft. 
At 5.50m i dont know if the weather was getting to me or what, but as soon as i went up to the bigger pole i was under on my takeoff and just couldnt put a good jump together.  So Jeremy and I tied at 5.40m but because he made it on his first he won the comp. 
I was def dissapointed because the way I was feeling 18ft was no problem that day even with the weather. 

Well here I am in Innsbruck Austria after a day of travel, we left Vienna this morning at 9 and got to Innsbruck by train at around 2.  All the vaulters were taken to an outdoor adventure park called Area 47, check it out We got to do the zip line which was over 300m long, which was pretty cool but nothing compared to the flying fox,  we climbed up to the underside of this bridge and climbed along some log bridges, dont worry i have pictures to upload.  They we got to the end and were attached to 2 ropes, so now Im about 130ft up, and you jump off, freefall for about 25ft and then you swing out over the parking lot, it was a lot like bungee jumping, i also have some video that i will upload some time. 

Tomorrow is the meet here in Innsbruck, and its looking like were gonna have some great weather!  Finally!!! says 75degrees and sunny, holy cow it would be nice to have one meet here with decent weather.  I have been feeling good and know i just need one good day and 19ft is gonna happen.  And why not tomorrow?  Thats my attitude going into the meet, im going to just trust my vault and have some fun, and i know the heights will happen.  Well i dont come home until Sunday so i will have plenty of time to update on Saturday, as far as I know right now at least. 
Thanks to everyone for your comments on Facebook, they really do help!  Seeya on the other side.

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Hingelo Rain Rain Rain

It started off as a decent day today, got a great 12hrs of sleep last night and felt much better this morning than i did yesterday.  Headed to the track around 2 and half way there it started to rain, it continued to rain the entire day other than about 1 hour in which we tried to hold a pole vault competition.  After going back and forth about trying to start the comp we started warming up in a gym at around 330, the meet directors were going to make a decision at about 420.  It was still raining when we went back out to the track, they wanted us to attempt to warm up and we would make a decision on starting at 5.  Warmups were not going that well for anyone, noone was able to keep their grip or hands dry until about 440 the rain stopped.  We were able to get in a decent warmup and started the competition.  I came in at opening height, 5.20m(17ft), just to make sure i made a height if the rain came back.  Made that easily on my first attempt, i was kinda stuck between poles and so i decided to jump at 5.30m(17'6") and try to get into a groove so i could move up a pole at the next height.  Made 5.30 pretty easily on my first attempt and was feeling pretty good, the sun was now out and we had a nice tailwind.  The bar went up to 5.40m(17'9"), i went up a pole to my 5m 13.8flex took off a little bit under and just grazed the bar on the way down.  Moved back a little for my second attempt and blew the bar away! I was feeling good, my run was good, take off getting where it needed to be, so i moved up a pole to my 13.3flex going to 5.50m(18') By this time there were only 2 guys out of 10 out of the competition.  My first attempt i took off a bit under again and kind of got stood up by the pole, no chance.  2nd attempt i was feeling confident, came down the runway and just didnt hit the pole quite right, finished my jump and just came down on the bar, as you can see in the picture.   Third attempt, the rain started when i was at the back of the runway, but i was sure i had it, moved my step back ab out 6in, came down the runway the best i had all day, hit the takeoff, everything was perfect accept the bar was just too close, hit it off on the way up and my day was over.  But the rain started coming down harder and harder and noone else jumped, they ended up canceling the meet.  Not too angry about what happened except it sucks to fly 10hrs to jump in the rain, and wouldnt you know it its supposed to rain for our next 2 meets as well.  Jeremy and I fly to Vienna tomorrow, we jump Tuesday. 
The meet will be broadcast live online HERE, we jump at 6pm local time so noon eastern time. 

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Saturday, May 29, 2010


 I made it to Hingelo, Netherlands at 10:00am local time or 4am eastern time.  I flew from Indy to Detroit, the poles made it on both the planes and arrived with me in one piece.  The meet directors were at the airport waiting for me when i arrived and after about a 2 hour drive I made it to the hotel.  Once again i got very little sleep on the plane, but to be able to adjust to the time change i cant go to sleep until tonight.  I am feeling much better now after getting some lunch in me, Im going to head to the track in a bit to do a shake out which should also help. 

Practice this week has gone really well,  Monday i jumped outside at Notre Dame and was able to jump on a 5m 200 from 7 lefts which i usually dont do.  Weve been working on getting around the pole instead of sitting on it, Monday i was getting it pretty good.  Wednesday I had to go to Naperville, Illinois to meet Darren to pick up my poles.  Since i was there we decided to practice together.   I ended up jumping near 18'5" from 7 lefts, we then put the bungee up at 6.10m or about 20ft and were trying to kick it from 5 lefts, on about my 6th one i ended up getting my foot around it.

I actually ust got back from the track and it looks pretty nice, the field seems pretty stacked so hopefully that will push me to put up a big mark.  I jump tomorrow at 4:30pm and will have updates posted soon after. 

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Belem 5.55m

It turned out to be a pretty good day!  I ended up jumping 5.55m and had a couple of pretty good trys at 5.70m but just couldnt keep the bar up there.

The track was gigantic, it definately wasnt filled up but there were a lot of people there.  The conditions were perfect, a light breeze that helped to keep us cool, the runway was fast.  The only thing that wasnt great was the pit, it was tiny, no front buns, and it was only as wide as the standards. 

Warmups went really well, my run was feeling great and just as i wanted to i started on the 5m 205, and was able to lock in my run.  So i decided to come in at 5.40m, i cooled it first try, and by the end of the height i was the only one left!  The plan was to go 5.55m and then 5.70 and then 5.80m i made 5.55m pretty easy on my first attempt.  Went up to 5.70m and had a couple of good attempts at it on the 5m 12.8 flex. 

Well i gotta get to bed, weve got a long day tomorrow, we leave the hotel at 1030am and get into chicago at 830am on friday. 

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Forteleza 5.40m

It was a hot day at the meet today, around 100 degrees and even though we started at 8:10am it was still just as hot as it was in the afternoon.  The winds were nice when we first got there but as the sun got higher in the sky the winds really took off.  It would be a nice tailwind in the back and once i got around my mid it would be a gusting crosswind, i think i let that affect me too much in my pole selection so when i should have been on the bigger pole i decided to stay on the smaller one.  I came in at 5.20 and made it easy, went up to 5.40 and made that easy on my first attempt, then we went to 5.50 and i had a really good jump on my first attempt but somehow knicked the bar with my elbow on the way over and it fell.  My next two jumps werent as good as the first and the wind was kicking up a little more.
I cant complain too much about the conditions tho because Darren jumped really well, ended up clearing 5.60 by a mile and Jason Wurster ended up jumping 5.50 pretty easily as well.  I have decided that on Wednesday at the next meet im not even going to touch my smallest pole, im just going to start on the 2nd pole in warmups and make it work. 

All in all its been a great few days here, i was definitely dissapointed about today, i ended up 4th in the meet, but the weather has been great, and the food is good.  We leave for Belem tomorrow, so hopefully i will have internet at the hotel when i get there and can give some more updates.  

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Friday, May 14, 2010

Forteleza Brazil!!

After nearly 24 hours of straight travel, and only about 2 hours of sleep I made it to Forteleza where my first meet in South America will be held on Sunday.  The trip went pretty well, we didnt have any problems getting the poles on the planes and the flights (all 3 of them) were smooth.  The only problem was that I just could not fall asleep on the plane.  Our longest flight, from Atlanta to Brasilia, was 8 and a half hours, even after taking some Nyquil I only managed to sleep for about an hour.  But I cant complain, we are here, safe and sound, poles in hand.  Sunday we vault at 8:10a.m.!  I think they schedule the meet around the hottest part of the day so we dont get dehydrated and croak.  Tomorrow were are planning on going to the track at 7a.m. to get the feel of getting up early and trying to compete.  Then after the meet we head to Belem for our 2nd and final meet on the 19th.  Ill do my best to keep you updated.

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Monday, May 3, 2010

Drake Relays and Indiana State

Oh man its been a while since my last post and i have a bit to update.  If youve read my last couple of posts you know that I have been struggling with my confidence level and dealing with hesitation in my vault.  In all sports you go through struggling times and it seems especially prevalent in the pole vault.

I was still struggling as i went to compete at the Drake Relays.  I was feeling healthy and hoping that i could start to turn things around at the meet.  Drake is one of my favorite meets to go to because the fans are awesome and Ive had great success with the mall vault in the last 2 years.  The only bad thing about Drake is that the weather never seems to cooperate, if the wind is good its raining, and if the rain holds off the wind is always crazy.  Well this year we had a little of both.  The rain held off until the very end of the vault but the wind was all over the place, it would be a tail wind in the back but a head wind in the front.  So during warmups I was really struggling with my run and wasnt able to get anything rolling.  I was able to make 5.22(17') on my third attempt, after that my run was starting to feel better.  I went up a pole and made 5.37(17'7") on my second attempt.  I was taking off way under so i was never really able to catch up to the pole.  My three jumps at 5.52m were not too great either but my run was feeling better each time.  

Last week i was determined to figure out what was going on and fix it.  Monday practice went pretty well from short run, afterward I decided to do some sliding box drills.  This is where you run and plant into a plastic box which slides along the ground.  I was running from 5 lefts and noticed that i was angled down a bit instead of driving my chest upwards.  I went over to the mats and did some drills where i was really trying to keep my chest driving up at the takeoff and it seemed to be helping a lot.  Wednesdays practice was awesome, one of the best of the year, I was holding high and jumping on big poles.  So i was really feeling confident going into the meet on Saturday.

There was a threat of thunderstorms all day Saturday but it held off for the mens vault.  They had a board runway set up on the track which made it feel a bit faster.  Warmups went awesome, I was taking off at 14ft and moving through my poles really well.  I came in at 5.40m(17'9"), came down the runway and jumped up big off the ground and made the bar easy.  I was ready to jump 19 ft i could feel it, everything was going really well as I went up to 5.55m (18'2).  I went up a pole and made another easy clearance!  I put the bar up to 5.70m (18'8), my first attempt I took off at 14'6" which is just a little too far out for me and rode the pole into the pit.  My second attempt was really good i just bumped the bar off on the way up.  Third attempt was my best of the meet and the pole ended up being too small.  I was frustrated that i wasnt able to jump higher since i was feeling so good but very happy with the way things ended up going.

I got some more good news, I will be heading to Brazil for 2 meets on the 16th and the 19th in Forteleza and Belem.  I will also be traveling to Europe at the end of the month for 3 meets which Im very excited for.
I will try to write more often so that my posts arent so long. 

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Friday, April 16, 2010

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Best vault practice in a while!!!

Alright well its about time i got my head out of my butt.  I had vault practice today and the only thinking i had was that i had to attack the box and not look back.  I started from 5 lefts and killed the 15'7" 195 i was jumping on, no hesitation, no looking back, just pure focus on putting as much power into the pole as i could.  Now that hasnt been too difficult for me in the past, jumping from 5 lefts, the issue has been running from 9 and doing the same thing.

I moved back to 9 with the same tenacity as i had put in at 5 and had a great first jump, attacking the last 3 steps and no hesitation at takeoff.  I moved up to my 5m 205lb which is usually my first pole in competition, but ive had trouble jumping on it at all in practice lately.  I came down the runway, took off and FINALLY put a great jump together!  I cant tell you just how happy i was with my self, I had finally made some progress in practice.  I continued to get better and better with each jump, easily clearing a 5.50m (18ft) bungee each time. 

If you read my last post you know that this has been something ive been struggling with for quite a while, so to finally have a great practice together in which i finished every jump and didnt bail on any of them was so big for me.  Like ive said before confidence in this sport is probably the biggest advantage you can have, and the way you build that confidence is by having great practices like this. 

I head to New York this weekend and then next week for Drake relays, Im hoping to keep this rolling as I go into Drake and hopefully get some good jumps at 19'.  Ill try to keep you posted. 

Always Pursuing

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sea Ray Relays 5.35m Yes!!!! Wait What...?

Sorry its been so long since my last real post, Ive been on the road a lot lately and havent had the chance to write.  Amanda and I went to New York to spend some time with her family since it was her spring break.  We had a great time with them and we got back just in time for me to leave and head down to Knoxville, Tennessee for the Sea Ray Relays. 

I have to tell you that the last month or so has been a little bit frustrating as far as vaulting has been going.  Lately Ive been kind of hesitant on my jumps, mostly from long run, in that I start to leave the ground and for whatever reason instead of finishing my vault I will bail and not finish my jump.  Its been something that has been creeping up on me for the last 3 months and was part of why i didnt jump as well as i should have at Nationals.  Weve been trying a lot of different things to fix it but mostly its in my head.  Its really frustrating when im trying to work on things in practice and get some good jumps in but i cant even finish a jump to work on them. 

So after traveling to New York and back I was kind of out of my rhythm anyway and then with all the other things that have been going on with my jumping I wasnt feeling over confident going into Sea Rays.  My body was sluggish from being on the road and I was letting negative thoughts get the best of me.

As warmups started on saturday i wasnt feeling bad, but i wasnt feeling that good either.  I was kind of just in the mode of whatever happens happens.  My short run vaults went well but as soon as i went back to my long run i was starting to feel hesistant again.  I wasnt attacking my run like i usually do and so at takeoff i was leaning back and not in a good position to jump.  I ended up bailing on all of my warmup jumps, I either ran through or didnt swing up on any jumps.  I wasnt too happy with my self after that, but i had a little time before i came in to get ready to go.  As i layed there for around an hour before i entered the competition there was a battle going on in my mind.  I was trying to psyche myself up and think positively but i could tell it just wasnt working and i was falling into this hole of negativity.  I finally slowed myself down and said "you have to come out on top of this." 

I drank the rest of my Red Bull, put on some music and got pumped up and ready to go.  I came in at 5.35m(17'6"), a height i can make very easily.  My first time down the runway i bailed but my run was so much better, i was running my butt off and attacking the box.  My second time down i finished the jump but i was about a foot under since my run was so much better.  By my third attempt I had made the adjustments needed, came down and made the bar!  I dont think i had ever been that happy to make 5.35m in my life since college.  I could have just stopped competing right there, i had accomplished something i didnt think was even remotely possible that day.  I had overcome my thoughts and emotions, and that was a victory in itself.  I ended up going for 5.55m and finally put a good jump together on my last attempt but the pole was too small.  

This sport is the most frustrating thing i have done in my entire life.  Im supposed to be a top vaulter in the nation, even the world, and Im having problems jumping a bar that is a foot and a half lower than my best.  It really starts to eat at me and I wonder what Im doing wrong, or what did I do before that im not doing now.  Anyway its something im trying to work out. 

Im going back to New York this weekend for my sister-in-laws wedding, then off to Drake Relays in Des Moine, Iowa.  Then I think i will be either at University of Illinois or Indiana State for a meet on the 1st of May.  I think after that Im going to try to change it up and either visit Jonesboro or somewhere else and get some good training and jumping in with some of those guys. 

Always Pursuing

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sea Ray Relays

After a 8 hour drive from South Bend I am now in Knoxville Tennessee for the Sea Ray relays at the University of Tennessee. I've never jumped here before but after going to the track today I have high expectations for myself. I found out today that 2 American records have been set here! What's even better is they were set at opposite ends so no matter the wind or direction of the pit the conditions are good enough for 2 guys to jump over 19 and a half feet!

Mary made the trip with me and jumps tomorrow at 1pm. She has been looking really good in practice and hopefully with the kickin tailwind they're supposed to have tomorrow shell be able to jump really high.

I jump on Saturday at 230pm, weather looks good at 70 degrees and a wind of about 3mph out of the east. I brought along a few of the 5.10m poles I've been jumping a little bit on in practice and am hoping to get some good results out of those.

Well time for bed, wish us luck and ill have results up for you guys saturday.

Always Pursuing,
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Friday, March 19, 2010

Wednesday, thursday workouts

Oh boy, I can't tell you guys how much my legs hurt today this week we really stepped it up. It wasn't the hardest week I've ever had, I was lifting more in the fall, but this is the first time we've lifted hard since probably January. So my legs have been sore and exhausted all week.

Wednesday workout
8xGeneral strength
General strength is where you have 2 cones about 25m apart, and you run from cone to cone pausing at each to do one exercise then running back.
Here's the exercises:
Pushups, situps, leg lifts, supermans, fire hydrants, up-and-backs, and burpees.

So we started at 12 and went down one each time so by the time we were done it was down to 5.

After that we did 4x5 lunges, calf raises, step-ups, and good mornings all while holding 70lbs

Thursday workout
Speed endurance x3
2 cones 50m apart with 2 small cones in the middle about 10m apart. Sprinting to either first or second small cone and jogging to last cone, very small amount of rest, maybe 8 seconds, do this about 6 times and that is one set.

Box squat 4x6 460lbs
Single legs step-ups 4x6 150lbs
Hang clean 4x6 215lbs
3 step squats 3x5 165lbs

Thursday was a lot better that Tuesday, I didn't feel like I was going to hurl the whole time, so that was good.
Now I've got the weekend off which is going to consist of a lot of stretching and icing I think. Having tuna salad sandwich for lunch, hopefully the protein will help my muscles.

Always Pursuing,
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Oh my goodness

Well like I said yesterday I started lifting and hard conditioning again this week and thought i might be sore today, well I was right.  This is how yesterday went, it started off at ND at the track and ended up at Bethel in the weight room. 
1.  Speed Endurance, 65meter sprints with about 40sec rest in between x6
2.  In and outs,  sprint 65m jog 65m continuously for about 650 meters, really thought i was going to puke after this one.
3.  Speed Endurance again

Weight room
1.  Box Squat, as a pole vaulter there is really no need for me to do a full squat since im never in that deep position to need to push out of it.  Its easier on my knees and Im able to do more weight.
4x7  390lbs
2.  Single leg step-ups, with these I had 115lbs on my back, one leg on a box and pushed up until both legs were on the box, 4x6 115lbs
3.  Hang Clean, this is to really teach my body to use the power and strength Ive gained from the squats in an explosive way, because theres is no use to be able to lift lots of weight if you cant use it in a functional way.
4x6 190lbs
4.  3 step squats, I explained these once before but really its just pure torture because by this time in the workout my legs are just dead and this exercise just puts you over the edge. 
3x6 165lbs

Well needless to say I am very sore today!  My legs hurt, my shoulders hurt, my neck hurts, and my abs hurt.  Last week I started to do yoga at the Worlds Gym in Mishawaka and it has really been helping with my flexibility and I hope it will help with my soreness as well.
Well I have another conditioning workout today, so I will try to update you guys on how it goes.  

Always Pursuing

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Trip to Indy

I drove down to Indianapolis on Sunday night for an MRI early on Monday morning.  Through the post collegiate scholarship I received from USATF in January Im able to get any tests and therapy done through St. Vincent hospital in Indy.  And as most of you know I have been fighting a calf injury for over a year now with no real relief.  This has really been a thorn in my side as it has inhibited me from training fully and has affected my performance at times.  

When I was in Albuquerque for nationals I was able to see the doctors from St. Vincent and they gave me a thorough evaluation.  My Junior year of college I had bunion surgery on my left foot, which is a whole other story, anyway I ended up being allergic to the metal in the screws they put in my foot and had a bad infection.  The doctors decided that because of all the trauma my foot went through from the surgery that the outside of my calf was having to do twice the work to keep my foot in a neutral position.  They gave me some exercises to do to strengthen the arch of my foot to return it to what it used to be.  They also wanted to have me come down and get an MRI to find out if there was any damage done to my leg ie. stress fracture, which has been in the back of my mind for a long time.

So I had the MRI done and we found that there was no stress fracture!  The doctors gave me some more exercises to do for my hips and glutes to help with some pain i had been having in my hips.

So now Im back at home and ready to get after it!  I know that my calf is something im really going to have to take care of but at least now i know what to do and hopefully can get some relief.  This week we start lifting again and doing some major conditioning, I feel like Im going to be really sore tomorrow.   I will write updates on the workouts and how Im feelling haha.  Also Im going to try to keep you guys a little more updated on my diet and some recipes that I am using. 

Always Pursuing

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Last indoor meet of the season

I had probably the best final meet of my indoor season that Ive ever had last night at the Alex Wilson Invitational at Notre Dame.  My plan was to jump from 5 lefts but my family ended up coming to the meet so I made the decision to come from 7 lefts instead.  Although I train full-time at Notre Dame this is the first time this year I have competed there, the runway they have is too short and they have not agreed to add any more.

It really was a great meet, the crowd is always awesome there and it was great to have my parents, my sister and her family,  3 fellow coaches from Memorial high school as well as 2 of my athletes there to watch and cheer me on.

I came in to the meet at 17'4" and made it pretty easily on my first attempt, it wasnt the prettiest jump but I can  make those lower heights still doing a lot of things wrong.  We went up to 17'8" and after going up a pole i put a good jump together and put some good height on the bar.  The bar was then raised to 5.51m or 18'1" I had one of the best jumps of the night on my second attempt and made the bar pretty easily!  Thats a new personal best from 7 lefts and a new fieldhouse record at Notre Dame!

I decided to put the bar at 5.61m or 18'4" which would have been a season best and a pretty big height from only 7 lefts.  When the bar gets up that high you really have to do about everything right to get the bar to stay up.  My first 2 jumps were ok, close but not great, my third jump I really had a great take-off and swing up the pole, i had the height but didnt quite get the depth that i needed so i came up a bit short.  So although it would have been awesome to come away with that height I'm very happy with the way the meet ended up. 

I have to give a shoutout to all of the people who have given their time, resources, services, and money to me to help me succeed.  I am so blessed to have each and every one of you in my life and this pursuit would not be possible without you. 

One of the most recent of these has been the donation of a water ionizer from Romi Sink at water ionizer authority.  I have been very excited about the possibility of using a water ionizer after hearing a lot of great things about it from fellow vaulters who have also used one and had great results.  I am still learning a lot about them and the numerous health benefits many of which are far beyond that of me just being a better athlete.  I have started drinking the water and as time goes on I will be updating you with how it works and the benefits that I see from it.  I really cant tell you how great Romi has been through this process, I can tell through our conversations that she really wants great things for me, she wants me to succeed and she genuinely believes in me.  I urge all of you to check out her site, she has done a ton of research on water ionizers and can answer any questions you might have. 

Thanks again to all you guys, its been a great first half of the season, my best ever actually, we have much to come and Im so excited about what its going to bring.

Always Pursuing

Monday, March 1, 2010

aw shoot

Well Im disappointed for sure, I only ended up jumping 18' and ended up 7th, not quite how I had envisioned it going.  I felt good going in to the competition, my plan for warmups was to take 3 jumps, and i ended up taking 4 with my last one having lots of height on a 18' bungee.  The runway was fast and it just felt like I never really locked in my run so it felt like i was having to make adjustments on my last couple of steps, which then transferred to me not feeling like i was hitting the plant right on. 

I came in at 17'9" and made it easy first attempt, went up to 18" and i had a really good jump on my first attempt and the pole i was on was just too small, thats when things started to get a little nutty.  I went up a pole on my second attempt and had a weird step on one of my last steps and ended up coming down on the bar.  Third attempt i had another weird step but was able to commit to the jump enough to make the bar.  I passed to 5.60 or 18'4" came down the runway feeling good, took-off a little under and bailed on the jump, looking back that was probably my best chance of making the bar. Second and third attempts i had plenty of height but just came down on the bar, I even took the bar off with my chin on one.
BUT i cant be too disappointed this indoor season has been awesome, I have never been this far along this early which just tells me that the outdoor season is going to be amazing.  So the plan is that im going to jump at Notre Dame on Friday the 5th from a short run, so if your in the area stop by.  Then we get back at training and tentatively plan on jumping mid April some time to start the outdoor season.   Thank you for all your prayers and support, I couldnt do this without your help. 

Always Pursuing

Friday, February 26, 2010

One day to Nationals!

Well tomorrow is the national meet, we jump at 5:45 mountain time.  We went to the track yesterday and I was able to get on the runway, man its gonna be fast, it reminds me a lot of the runway at Milrose and I had really good results there.  Milrose was the first time I started taking off at 14ft consistently and doing so has really allowed me to jump to the best of my abilities.  Practice the last couple of weeks has been a huge boost to my confidence, Ive been able to jump on some big poles from my short run so hopefully that will transfer to my long run tomorrow.  Also Ive been wanting to get on my 5.10m poles and tomorrow may give me the perfect opportunity to do that.

Alright guys wish me luck, there should be updates on under U.S. Elite.  I will let you guys know exactly how the meet went and hopefully have some videos up either tomorrow night or sunday some time. 

Always Pursuing

Thursday, February 18, 2010

One week from nationals!

I cant tell you guys how pumped I am for nationals!  One week from today I leave with my coach Danny and training partner Mary for Albuquerque, New Mexico for the USA Indoor National meet.  This is how nationals for track and field works: every year we have an indoor and an outdoor national meet, everyone who has made the qualifying height(this year its 5.50m or 18') gets to compete at the national meet.   Also every non-Olympic year like this year we have a world championships which is a lot like the Olympics but only for track and field, this year we have indoor world championships so everyone competing at USA nationals next week is fighting for the top 2 spots to make the USA world championship team. 
Practice this week has been going really well, weve just been kind of taking it easy to stay off the calf.  Monday we had off, Tuesday we did a tempo workout on the bike which was 3 sets of 20 sec easy and 10 secs hard 8 times, not too bad just to get in a little cardio work.  Wednesday we did speed work, which was sprinting about 30 meters about 5 times, then we did overspeed where Danny pulls us using a long bungy cord so we can know the feeling of running faster and try to duplicate that on our own.  Today we had gymnastics and a general strength workout which involves running about 20 meters, doing one of about 6 exercises, running back and doing another exercise.  Tomorrow we vault to just lock in some things and make sure were ready to go for next week.  Ill let you know how it goes, and maybe some vids.
Always Pursuing

Monday, February 15, 2010

Gvsu videos 2/12/10

Videos from Grand Valley on Friday are now uploaded, check em out!
Always Pursuing

Sunday, February 14, 2010

GVSU and Main South Sky Jumpers Camp

Its been a great couple of days, We (Mary Saxer, my coach Danny Wilkerson and myself) went up to Grand Rapids, Michigan to GVSU on Friday for a meet.  The funny thing is that of all the times Ive jumped at Grand Valley I have never jumped over 17'9" (5.40m), Ive jumped there probably ten times in the last year and for whatever reason i have never jumped over 17'9".  So Friday I decided it was all or nothing, I entered the meet at 18' (5.50m) and skyed it!  After that I put the bar to 18'4" (5.60m) and made it easily on my second attempt.  I had one good jump at 18'8" but came down on the bar.

I was really happy with the way i jumped I feel like Im finally jumping the way i should be and am ready to jump something big at Nationals coming up in 2 weeks in Albuquerque NM.  Im finally holding the top of my 16'5" poles and so im finally hitting the bend like i should and am really able to lock into the pole and get on top of it really well.  Darren Niedermeyer also jumped on Friday and made 5.50m and had good looks at 5.60m he was really happy just to get his qualifying mark out of the way for nationals.

Then Amanda and I traveled to Chicago to Jan Johnson's Sky Jumpers camp and had a good time seeing a lot of coaching friends that I havent seen in a while.  Later that night Darren and I jumped again this time from a shorter run.  Darren jumped 17' from 6 lefts in tennis shoes and i was able to jump 17'6" from 5 lefts and had a couple good jumps at 18'.  It was a lot of fun and I feel like im rolling right now at exactly the right time with USA Nationals only a few weeks away.  I feel like i have a great chance of placing top 2 and making my first World Championships team!

Always Pursuing
P.S. Videos to come
P.S.S. Also now you can easily help me out in a tangible way by clicking on the Donate button on the left,
thanks so much for all your help.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Article in the Elkhart Truth!

The Elkhart Truth newspaper today ran an article on me!  Check it out in the paper or online at: ETruth Article.
Since I am not originally from the area this article is a really good way for people from Michiana to learn more about me and what I'm trying to do.  So if your visiting my blog for the first time, Im glad your here, take a look around read my profile and watch some videos of me.  Thanks I appreciate all your support as I pursue 2012 Olympics and ultimately the world record!

Always Pursuing

Sunday, February 7, 2010


Well Im sitting in the airport in Boston waiting to get on my flight back to Chicago.  Theres not a whole lot worse than traveling across the country and ending up with a NH (no height), its REALLY frustrating.  Its definitely not the worst Ive felt after a meet, I dont really have a great explanation for what went wrong.  I was feeling pretty good, my calf wasnt hurting too bad, it wasnt like I had a really long flight over or anything, I just couldnt put it together.  There was a bit of a disconnect between my mid and takeoff and I didnt really line them up until my second attempt at 5.40m.  During warmups i wasnt really able to get on the poles i wanted to, and instead of staying on my smallest pole which i knew i could make 5.40 on i tried to get on the bigger poles and never was able to really finish any jumps in warmups which led to me not being sure what pole to be on in the comp.

Oh well what are you gonna do right?  Its over now so the only thing i can do is try to learn from it and try not to let it happen again.  I guess next time I will make sure my run is more consistent, I will start a little lower if i have to try to get into my groove, I will stay on the smaller pole until I finish a jump and blow through. 

I do have some good new though, I found out on thursday that I will be recieving the USATF Foundation Grant!  This money will help immensely with training costs, medical visits, travel costs, coaching, and a ton of other things that will help me in pursuit of my dream.  This makes things a lot easier but does not necessarily grant me success.  I know that I am still a long way from being the best i can be and there are a lot of steps to climb to get there.  One thing this does immediately is lessen the stress of being an emerging athlete, every pole vaulter i feel has to go through a period of trial and desperation, not knowing where the money to pay your bills will come from, working the oddest jobs on the planet, and begging friends and family for help.  I really think this is one thing that makes us unique, im sure that other athletes go through some of  the same things but us vaulters just love this sport too damn much to quit, were stubborn that way, if  you've ever pole vaulted you know there is no feeling like that of setting a new PB (personal best). 

I am planning on jumping at Grand Valley State University next Friday hopefully try out some of my 5.10 poles.  Then i will be traveling to Chicago for Jan Johnson's Sky Jumpers camp at Main South High School, if your in the area come say hi, its near Ohare.  Im hoping to jump at the camp from a short run with a few other elite vaulters, Darren Niedermeyer, and possibly Jacob Pauli it should be a good time and hopefully we can put on a bit of a show for the campers.  Alright im signing off, feels good to just jot some feelings down about this weekend, i feel as though i can put this behind me now and move forward.  Ill let you know how things go this week.

Always Pursuing

Friday, February 5, 2010


I was wrong I guess the Reebok indoor games will be on tv sunday from 2-4pm eastern time on espn2
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Millrose cont.

Well I just got back from NYC last night after a very successful trip to the Millrose Games.  On not only my first Millrose Games but also my first trip to New York City I came away with the win!  I am of course very happy with the way it ended up but also with the way I jumped.  I felt really good on the runway in warm-ups and I ended up having to back up about 2 feet.  I was able to get on the biggest pole Ive on this year in warm-ups so i was confident I could start at 18'.  My first jump at 18' i was holding a little low so the pole unbent really quick, luckily i was able to get up and over the bar, I hit in on the way down a bit but after some wobbling it stayed up.  The bar went up to 18'4" or 5.60m, I made the adjustment i needed by moving my grip up on the pole which allowed me to get into a better position and it was an easy make.

When the bar went up to 18'8 there were still 4 people left in the comp; Tim Mack who was looking the best he has in a couple of years, Derek Miles who is always capable of jumping 19, Renaud Levillenie who made 18' by about a foot and a half, and myself, so in no way did I expect to win with my make at 18'4".  I decided it was as good a time as any to move up to my new poles which i had never jumped on before.  I had a really good jump on my first attempt and hit the bar on my way up.  I decided to go up to my next pole thinking that if i could get on it i would make the bar easily, well the pole had different plans and I didnt quite roll it over enough to get a good jump on it.  My third attempt i decided to go back to the smaller pole, up my grip and push the standards back.  I ended up hitting the bar on my way up again and i was out.  Now Derek and I are tied for first on misses, on his second jump his calf seized up and had to pull out of the competition.  Renaud somehow barely hit the bar off on all three of his attempts so by rule i was declared the winner. 

After the competition i was interviewed on the big screen and then taken back to the press area to be interviewed by reporters, then i had to go and get drug tested which is always a fun time. That night i went out a bit with Tim Mack and Becky Holiday which was a lot of fun. 

Now Im back at home nursing my calf, hope to get a good week of practice in before heading to Boston for the Reebok Indoor Games on Saturday, maybe this time i will get some TV time.  Saturday 8-10pm et.

Always Pursuing