Cole Wuest’s progress as a pole vaulter the past four track and field seasons greatly resembles what takes place during a meet:
The more time that passes, the higher the bar goes.
As a freshman novice, Wuest topped out at a height of 8 feet, 6 inches. He’s since progressed to personal bests of 11-6 as a sophomore and last season’s 13-foot effort at the IHSAA Boys Track and Field State Finals at Indiana University.
Looking back, the Whiteland Community High School senior marvels at how far he’s come the past four years.
“Oh, yeah. I was bad at first. I had never even heard of pole vaulting until my freshman year,” said Wuest, who competed in the 800- and 1,600-meter runs while a middle school track athlete. “That (freshman) season we didn’t bend the pole.
“We just focused on technique then and for the first half of my sophomore season.”
The blueprint incorporated by Wuest and Warriors coach Brandon Bangel has been a success.
On April 17, Wuest achieved a personal-best of 14 feet in a three-way meet at Plainfield against the host Quakers and Mooresville. Five days later, in less-than-stellar weather conditions, he cleared 13-6 to take first at the Johnson County Meet at Franklin Community High School.
“It’s been a very progressive four years for him. But the thing about Cole is he’s invested in (pole vaulting),” Bangel said. “We knew we had some athletic talent, and we take a very methodical approach, which has allowed Cole to get better each year.”
The ironic aspect of Wuest’s pole vaulting career is that it began shortly after former Whiteland vaulter Hunter Swails established the record Wuest now covets.
As a senior, Swails made it over 14-9 to place eighth at the 2010 state meet.
Therein lies Wuest’s motivation: To literally and figuratively raise the bar so that he’s regarded as his high school’s pole vaulting yardstick for years to come.
Time is running out, though upcoming opportunities include the Zionsville Invitational on Friday and a return to Plainfield for Tuesday’s Mid-State Conference Meet.
If the weather cooperates, anything is possible for Wuest, who uses a 14-foot pole and five-step approach during competition (he expects to soon graduate to a 15-foot pole and seven-step approach in pursuit of greater heights).
The objective is for the 5-foot-10, 160-pound Wuest to eventually reach 14-3, 14-6 or even 15 feet by the time of the Columbus North Sectional on May 22. Wuest has been able to do this in practice this season, though with a slightly sagging bungee cord as the bar.
As a junior, Wuest soared 12-6 to place third at sectional. He followed that performance by going 13 feet in deplorably bad weather at the Connersville Regional, thus stamping his ticket for his first state meet experience.
A 3.49 grade-point average student, Wuest plans to major in nursing once in college. Where that is has yet to be decided.
In the meantime, he’s focused on closing out his final high school track and field season on a positive note.
This time, expectations abound.
“Last season I didn’t expect to make it as far as I did. I went into the regional thinking, ‘OK, this is it,’” Wuest said. “I was excited to be able to go to state. I liked the surface of their track. It made my run quicker and was easier on my legs.”
With seven-step approaches, every little bit helps.
Name: Cole Wuest
Family: Parents, Brian and Amy; sisters, Taylor Wuest, 19, Carly Cravens, 10, Laney Cravens, 8; brothers, Brigham Wuest, 11, Caiden Wuest, 8
High school: Whiteland
Favorite TV show: “SportsCenter”
Favorite food: Cheeseburgers
Favorite movie: “42”
Favorite athlete: Peyton Manning
Favorite team: Indianapolis Colts