Ex-Charleston High track and field standout vaults into big time at SIU
CARBONDALE – Former Charleston High track and field star Chase Black set a new personal pole vault record in the Missouri Valley Conference Championships last month in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
The University of Southern Illinois sophomore finished tied for ninth place with Andrew Pope of Wichita State. Black's mark of 4.91 meters (16 feet, 1.25 inches) surpassed his former high of 4.89 meters in last spring’s outdoor championships.
For Black, pole vaulting is pretty much a full-time job.
“Even though there is an indoor and outdoor season, it's year-round training as much as we can," Black recently told the East Central Reporter.
The squad’s off-season routine consists mainly of weightlifting, running, overall conditioning and cardio work. During the summer months, Black spends three days a week in the weight room and five to six days a week doing some sort of training involving running and body-weight movement drills.
Black said the group runs wind sprints ranging from 60 to 200 meters. Upper-body strength is an integral part of pole vaulting, so a good deal of body-weight movement drills and tempo work are employed.
“It is like CrossFit, except that it doesn’t beat your body up as bad," Black said. “I came in as a freshman weighing 138 pounds; now I’m 150. That tells you the kind of training we do and how much you can get out of it,"
In October, NCAA rules permit official practice time to go from eight hours a week to 20 hours. At this point, the team begins rigorous training, including drills and actual jumping.
“Once that kicks in, we start doing the technical stuff," Black said. “We begin jumping with short approaches, and we gradually work our way back to full approaches. When it gets closer to the start of the season, we taper off our training somewhat – in that way, we’re healthy and ready for the early meets."
At Charleston, Black won the state outdoor championship his senior year, with a school record vault of 15 feet, 3 inches and was also runner-up in the indoors championship. Overall, he was a three-time qualifier for the state meet, with a fourth-place finish as a sophomore and a third-place finish as a junior. Black also played four years as a defensive back and wide receiver on the football team, and two years on the basketball team.
Black is pursuing a degree in agricultural business, and would someday like to have a sales or management career with a large company such as John Deere or Monsanto.
“It’s kind of a broad degree, and there is so much I can do with it," Black said.
Black also said he hopes to have children one day, so he can teach them to vault in the way his father taught him.
As far as his expectations for the upcoming season go, Black's always shooting higher.
“I definitely would like to keep training, getting higher jumps, and I’d like to finish the outdoor season with jumps over 5 meters or higher," Black said. “That’s the goal right now, to just keep going and break that barrier. It was always a lifetime goal to actually compete and do well as a Division I athlete -- not many people can do it."
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