Pole vaulting is a difficult skill to master and in Wharton County, East Bernard Brahma Tyler Hunter has come closest in his senior year.
With his first state trip on his mind, Hunter has regularly cleared 13 feet, with a personal best of 15’-4”, an East Bernard school record broken by him this year.
“Pole vaulting, like many other high school track events, has become a lost art. East Bernard is blessed to have Tyler Hunter, a coachable, goal-oriented athlete with a level of fearlessness that makes him an elite pole vaulter,” East Bernard track coach Rocky Vaclavick said. “He possesses an unparalleled dedication and tremendous work ethic both in and out of school. We are very fortunate to have (head football) coach Wade Bosse working with him. (He) brings a vast amount of knowledge to our vaulting program.”
High winds have been Hunter’s biggest enemy this season. However, he still is the top pole vaulter at the meets he attends. At the Bulldog Relays in Boling last Thursday, Hunter cleared 14 feet which would have been good enough for a sixth-place finish at state in 2019.
“Once district comes around anything can happen. I have to clear a bar and I have to be consistent and that’s what I’ve been working on,” Hunter said. “It’s a lot of technique.”
Pole vaulting wasn’t something that came naturally to him; he’s had to work to obtain the level that he is at. Unlike most track events where an athlete can naturally run faster or jump higher, pole vaulting requires skill to get over a bar 13 plus feet in the air.
Hunter in seventh-grade decided to pole vault after a nudge from his dad who was a pole vaulter in middle school. Hunter tried and was the worst on the team, but the loss was something that spurred him into becoming better.
“At district (that year) I finished fourth and I didn’t like that,” Hunter said. “I don’t like losing and I just wanted to win. And the next year I came in first at district.”
Twice a week for two hours, Hunter travels to Dickinson to get pole vaulting training.
In middle school he went from 6’-6” in seventh-grade to 9 feet a year later. His jumps kept improving, crossing over 12 feet as a freshman, 14 feet sophomore year and before COVID ended his junior season, he vaulted over 14’-6”, which would have been good enough to get him to state the year before.
His personal best of 15’ 4” this year would have earned him a silver medal in the 2019 state meet.
Hunter and the East Bernard track team will have competed at the district meet Monday for field events and Wednesday in running events in West Columbia.
When not competing Hunter is helping usher in the next wave of East Bernard pole vaulters to take over after he graduates at the end of the year.
“One of the unique features of our pole vaulting program is that Tyler helps mentor and work with our younger vaulters throughout the week, passing his knowledge and passion to his peers,” Vaclavick said.
East Bernard this season is the only school in the county with a pole vaulter.