Only a junior, Center Grove’s Josh Hall realizes he has an entire season to achieve his track and field goals.
He would prefer not to wait.
Seeded seventh in the pole vault for Saturday’s IHSAA Boys Track and Field State Finals at Indiana University, Hall, winner of last week’s Franklin Regional with a best vault of 14 feet, 6 inches, looks forward to the challenge ahead.
Big venue. Bigger stakes.
“My ultimate goal was to get 15 feet this year, but I would like to get on the (awards) podium. Fifteen feet … 15-6, I would like to try to get in the top five,” Hall said. “I’m probably more excited than nervous.
“I’ve been talking to my coaches (Kevin Walsh and Scott Johnson). They’ve been telling me to do what I normally do. It’s just like every other meet.”
Saturday’s top three seeds — Hamilton Southeastern senior Ethan Bray, Frankfort sophomore Colton Crum and Winamac’s William Williamson — all soared 16 feet or higher at their respective regionals.
These are heights Hall hopes to attain a year from now.
Based on recent performances, there’s no reason to think he won’t.
Hall’s personal-best as a sophomore was 13 feet. He placed second at the Columbus North Sectional by clearing 12-4 and nearly got out of the Connersville Regional with a fourth-place effort of 12-10.
Credit Hall’s offseason commitment to the strength training of Marty Mills, Center Grove’s strength and conditioning coach, as one of the major factors in his improvement.
“Both of our varsity vaulters (Hall and sophomore Connor Walsh) have gotten stronger and faster this year, which is a major factor to their success,” Kevin Walsh said. “This is due to hard work with coach Mills in the weight room and speed improvement through (head) coach (Eric) Moore’s speed program.
“More focus in practice and attention to detail during drill repetition has really helped them recently with improvement in technique at the top of their jumps.”
While growing up, Hall watched in awe as 2009 Center Grove graduate and former state finalist Tanner Riley, the program’s record-holder with a vault of 15-7¾, repeatedly made his way over the fiberglass bar.
The combination of power, speed and fearlessness required to succeed in the pole vault appealed to Hall.
“I’ve always liked to put myself out there, to kind of fling yourself up in the air,” Hall said. “It takes a lot of work. You work almost every muscle in your body to do the sport, but it’s always fun to me.”
At regional this season, Hall, who already cleared 14-6, had the bar raised to 15 feet.
He nearly made it over on his third and final attempt, but made just enough contact with the bar that it fell to the mat.
Hall also plays football for the Trojans as a defensive back. He excels academically with a 3.9 grade-point average.
“Josh is an excellent athlete. He is very talented and seems to get better each week,” Moore said. “This year we anticipate him to be on the podium at state, and next year I look for Josh to be one of the top vaulters in the state.
“He has excellent speed and great strength, which are musts for the pole vault.”
During the 2013 track and field season, Hall, then a ninth-grader, set a goal for himself to vault 16 feet by the time he graduates.
He’s well on his way.
THE HALL FILE
Name: Josh Hall
Family: Parents, Scott and Shannan; sisters, Taylor, 21, and Allie, 14
Favorite TV show: “SportsCenter”
Favorite food: Sushi
Favorite movie: “Step Brothers”
Favorite athlete: Sam Kendricks
Favorite team: Minnesota Vikings