By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer
CARL JUNCTION, Mo. —
On a rare spring-like day, Christian Repsher had a chance to see what he could do.
During a practice this month at Carl Junction High School, Repsher gripped a pole with both hands, raised it above his head, and started to run toward a pole vault pit that was missing its crossbar.
Repsher planted the pole in the vault box, hoisted himself skyward, then fell backward into the landing pit.
“He’s back,” Repsher said with a smile.
Repsher has reason to be excited. As a two-time qualifier for the Class 3 state Track and Field Championships, Repsher has his sights on going beyond the school record of 13 feet, 7 inches he set last year at the Big 8 Conference meet and again two weeks later at the Class 3 sectional he won at Marshfield.
“We do some of the best drills we picked up at college camps,” said Repsher, who participated in a camp for pole vaulters at Missouri Southern. “I’ve been to that one for two or three years now. They just give us new drills that we might not have thought of before.”
Repsher’s progress as a pole vaulter has prompted vaulters coach Chris Huhm to evaluate what might be needed to further assist Repsher and the school’s younger vaulters. Their first varsity meet is Thursday at the Carthage Invitational.
“We are friends with Webb City and McDonald County, so we can trade poles if we need to,” Huhm said. “He may be starting to push the limits of the equipment we have available.
“He’s starting to get to the point where he’s working on the end moves. It’s rare that I get to work on those with a high school athlete.”
Another piece of equipment that Carl Junction has acquired is designed to help their vaulters do just that.
“Mainly, it’s technique in the air,” Repsher said. “We got a new swing invert machine so we can apply it in our vault. Basically, it’s just muscle memory. You should start a foot lower and work your way up to a foot higher each year.”
As a freshman, Repsher cleared 12-6 in the sectionals and qualified for the state meet, where he cleared 12-6 again and finished in a three-way tie for sixth.
He twice cleared 13-7 last year, and Huhm has set what he believes is an attainable goal this year. “I’d like to see him do 14-6,” he said.
Repsher has worked toward that goal in the offseason by running on the cross country team and lifting weights as part of a strength and conditioning program.
“He ran cross country not because he’s an exceptional distance runner. He just needs to run all year long,” Huhm said. “In the offseason, he hit the weights really hard.
“He has matured mentally and physically. That’s probably the biggest change I’ve seen,” he said. “He’s about 1 1/2 inches taller, but he has started to fill out. He jumped all through the summer with the Junior Olympics and was a national qualifier.”
Another Carl Junction vaulter, junior Christian Pittman, who missed last season because of injuries, has returned and is providing Repsher with a welcome intersquad rival.
“He’s pushing Repsher and that competition really helps,” Huhm said. “But we’ve only jumped outside four times. We only have 13 weeks as it is.”