LAUREL – With just weeks to go before the Class AA-C Track and Field Meet in Great Falls, Class C pole vault champion Lincoln Young isn’t feeling the pressure.
“I don’t honestly think about state champion that much,” Young explained last week at the Midland Roundtable Top Ten meet. “I spend my energy focusing on how high can I get and improving my PRs, improving my goals as far as that goes. Of course I’d like to win state; it’s a nice feeling.”
Few might guess that from the red dirt track with a view of the Bridger Mountains, Young’s path would lead him to such heights and as of a few weeks ago, a commitment to pole vault at the University of Kentucky where he intends to study graphic design and business.
Young and his coaches have had to get creative to get there, even finding alternative venues for practice wnen needed at the rubber tracks nearby like Belgrade and Bozeman.
“We have to pack the poles up, put them on the truck right after school and just head out there so it takes longer obviously, but I’m just glad that they’re kind enough to let me come practice with them,” said Young.
And regardless of his future plans, he’s got his eye on bigger goals yet this season.
“I’d like to get at least over 16 feet, but if I can get on my large poles, I think I have a shot at breaking the state record, which I’ll have to battle (Sidney’s Garrison Hughes) for, but that’s what I want to see happen,” Young said.
After a tough start to the season where the weather prevented the majority of competitions in a large part of the state, the blonde vaulter who stands at 6-4 is starting to make the transitions to tackle those goals, like changing from a six-step to an eight-step approach and moving up to 16-foot poles.
“We probably had two solid weeks of no vaulting. He jumps at indoor with Coach Jesse (Anderson) from Bozeman so he got a lot of really good practice over the winter, but then it was like a good two-three week break between indoor and vaulting outdoors,” said Manhattan Christian pole vault coach Jake Van Dam.
And now even though they're able to get outside, in most cases Young doesn’t actually start his event until many of his competition have already finished theirs. Usually his opening height is higher than the majority of his competitors clear.
“It’s hard sometimes, because I have to warm up with everyone else when the meet starts and sometimes it’s a good four or five hours between when I first warm up and when I finally come in,” said Young. “Thankfully, I usually get warm up jumps before my height, but I’ve gotten used to it. But it is different than when you just go there and vault right away. I’ve had to condition myself.”
Young is just one of just three vaulters in the state to have cleared 15-0 this season. Class A Sidney’s Garrison Hughes leads the pack with a recent personal best of 16-9, believed to be the highest vault performed in state history, and Class AA Butte’s Ty Peterson has reached 15-4.
But keeping an eye on each other is nothing new. They may face each other in indoor or non-MHSA events, like the Pole Vault Summit in Reno or at the Simplot Games, but during the outdoor season, they rarely, if ever, compete against each other due to their geography and classes.
Case in point – both Young and Hughes have their eyes on potentially breaking the state record (16-4) which can only be set at the State Track and Field Meet. Class A will be in Laurel and Class C will be in Great Falls so depending on the time of competition (Class A is currently scheduled for 8:30 a.m. and Class C for 3:00 p.m.) on May 25, the record could hang in the balance.
“I think it would be kind of cool to see what (Hughes) does and if I can get there, what I’ll do,” said Young.