GREENVILLE – In the past decade Greenville has had a strong history in the pole vault, but this year the Green Wave are having unprecedented success.
In his first 10 years coaching Greenville’s pole vaulters, Micah Coblentz sent five athletes to the Ohio High School Athletic Association state track and field meet.
“I’ve been blessed with great athletes,” Coblentz said.
Among that group he had a state champion, Kevin Leland in 2009, but he’d never had multiple vaulters make state in a single year – until this year when juniors AJ Frens and Lexi Addington both qualified for the state meet.
Frens is making his second consecutive trip to the OHSAA state meet. He finished fifth in Division I at last year’s OHSAA state meet and also finished as the runner up at this year’s Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches indoor state championships.
Having made it to state last year, Frens is more confident preparing for Saturday’s competition.
“I’m still going to be nervous,” he said. “I get nervous before every meet, but I probably won’t be as nervous since it’s my second time.”
Frens cleared 15 feet at last year’s state meet and has become even stronger this year, eclipsing a personal best 16 feet. He hopes to match or even exceed his personal best on Saturday.
“I just kind of want to get over 16 feet again,” Frens said. “That’s my goal. Maybe even like 16-3 if we’re having a good day. But since everyone else is doing really good as well who knows where I’m going to place with that performance.”
This year’s state competition is stiff with 11 of the 16 competitors, including Frens, clearing 15 feet or more at last week’s regional meets.
“I’m not going for like top two or something, but if that happens great,” Frens said. “But if not, as long as I clear a decent height I’ll be happy.”
In addition to having to contend with a strong field, Frens is battling through a heel injury that he suffered two weeks ago at districts and re-aggravated last week.
“It did affect his run at regionals,” Coblentz said. “We couldn’t get on his big pole. We had to stay on a small pole and get it done on the small pole.”
While his heel still hurt in the days leading up to the state meet, Frens thinks it will be fine by Saturday.
“I can push through it pretty easily,” he said. “It’s not the easiest thing to do, but I can get through it.”
While Frens is making a return trip to the state meet, Addington has qualified for the first time. She finished fourth at last week’s regional, qualifying for state by clearing 11 feet 2 inches.
“She was very close at clearing 11-6, which I think if she can do that at the state meet that will put her at the middle of the pack,” Coblentz said
Addington’s personal best is 11 feet 4 inches, which she hopes to eclipse on Saturday.
“I just want to try to get a PR with like 11-6,” she said.
Being a junior, just making it to the state meet is invaluable for Addington’s future success, Coblentz said. Though her future looks bright, her present also has potential.
“If we had the best day, we’d be on the podium somehow,” Coblentz said.
Both of Greenville’s vaulters will compete on Saturday at The Ohio State University’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus. Frens will compete in the Division I boys pole vault at noon, and Addington will compete in the Division I girls pole vault at 3 p.m.
Having two pole vaulters compete at the OHSAA state track and field meet is big for Greenville’s program, Coblentz said, and could be the start of even better things to come. The Wave had four vaulters qualify for regionals this year, another first in Coblentz’ tenure, and all of them will be back with the team next year.
“I’m extremely pleased with how they’ve done this year, and it’s not just those two,” Coblentz said. “It’s my entire group of vaulters. I couldn’t be more proud of them. The kids that they are, the families that they come from and the hard work that they put in not just during the season but on the outside of the season, too. It’s paying off for them. And I don’t have any seniors, and that’s one of the best parts about it is they’re all going to be back next year.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.