GREENVILLE – AJ Frens and Ryan Trick will represent the Greenville track and field team in the Division I boys pole vault at this week’s Ohio High School Athletic Association state track and field meet.
Frens and Trick are scheduled to begin their competition at noon on Saturday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on the campus of The Ohio State University in Columbus.
For Frens this is his third consecutive trip to the OHSAA state championship track and field meet.
“This year I think I’m more confident in what I can do,” the Greenville senior said. “I’ve been pretty consistent in my jumps, and we have some bigger sticks now. I have the tools I need for this year that I didn’t have last year. I’m not really injured or anything like I was last year. Everything is going well.”
His teammate, Trick, is making his first appearance in the OHSAA state meet.
“Being my first year I’m kind of anxious for it,” the Green Wave junior said. “Don’t really know what to expect just as far as like crowd and stuff. I don’t know if it’s going to pump me up or anything, but hopefully it gets my adrenaline pumping and I can hit my big poles and clear some high bars.”
Trick hopes to clear 15 feet 7 inches during the state meet, a mark he needs to qualify for the New Balance Nationals Outdoor.
Frens hopes to clear 16 feet 2 inches so he can break the Greenville school record, which is currently held by 2009 OHSAA state champion Kevin Leland. Frens, too, would like to add a state championship to his résumé.
“The ultimate goal is first place and also the school record, which is 16-2,” the future Central Michigan University pole vaulter said. “If I could get both of those that would be amazing.”
As a sophomore Frens cleared 15 feet during the state meet and finished fifth in Division I. Last year he came into the competition at 15 feet but didn’t clear the bar.
“I think the nerves are kind of less this year than they have been in the past even though last year I didn’t have the outcome I wanted,” he said. “So I’m kind of looking to redeem myself there, but I still have a really good feeling.”
Greenville pole vaulting coach Micah Coblentz is confident about the abilities of both Frens and Trick. Both competed in the New Balance Nationals Indoor this winter, which Coblentz hopes will help when they compete this weekend.
“We’ve had some great opportunities this year with being able to go to New York to indoor nationals and putting them on a big stage there and getting that kind of experience I’m hoping that will help at the state meet with understanding what kind of pressure is there and being on the big stage in the outdoor season now,” he said. “I think they’re going to be a little bit more comfortable rather than freaked out.”
Since the indoor nationals both Frens and Trick have had some injury issues, but Coblentz is hopeful they won’t affect the Green Wave vaulters on Saturday.
“It hasn’t come without some problems through the way with AJ having his hand injury at the beginning of the season and Ryan has been struggling with a chronic groin problem that we always are aware of and trying to manage, just keeping them both healthy,” the Green Wave coach said. “I feel pretty confident coming into this weekend. I really do as far as their health and as far as them doing the best that they can do. I would be ecstatic to see both of them on the podium this year. If that happens I will be happy no matter where they’re standing.”
Being a senior, this is Frens’ final chance to represent Greenville, and he wants to finish his high school career strong.
“I just want to go out with a bang, represent my school well just one last time,” Frens said.
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.