Finding the perfect fit: Pole vaulter loves the competition

For Brownstown Central’s Jacob Bollinger, there isn’t anything he would rather participate in after school in the spring than pole vaulting.

While the heat of competition can pit some teams against one another, pole vaulting brings athletes together, according to Bollinger.

“I enjoy pole vault because the competition is really not like a mean competition,” Bollinger said. “You’re really rooting for everybody because you’re only competing against yourself, so everyone always helps out and gives you tips and stuff like that.

“Big meets are fun just because you get to see everyone that you normally don’t get to see. In big meets you have a lot more adrenaline going and you’re on bigger poles. I think they’re a lot more fun.”

After trying multiple sports in middle school, Bollinger found the perfect fit.

“I started pole vaulting in seventh grade,” Bollinger said. “I tried every other sport in middle school and I didn’t like it. I decided to try track, but I don’t like running at all. I wanted to pick a field event and I picked pole vault, and I ended up being real good at it and I really liked it.”

The senior has been named a Mid-Southern Conference champion, a sectional champion and a state qualifier in the event.

Bollinger said a lot goes into each vault.

“Pole vault is just as much a physical sport and technical sport, and a mental sport at the same time,” he said. “If you’re not strong enough then you can’t do anything, and if you’re technique is bad then you’ll hurt yourself.

“The biggest mental block for me is getting on a bigger pole just because when you get on a bigger pole there is a chance of you coming back down on the runway and getting hurt that way. Having good speed and having a good plant helps you not come back. Sometimes the pole can just be too big for you at that time.”

Bollinger weighs 170 pounds, so in a recent indoor meet he started jumping at 13 feet on a 14-foot, 165-pound pole and moved up to a 170 and then a 175 pole.

This season Bollinger comes into the season off an injury from the winter, when he broke his arm snowboarding.

Bollinger said it is important psychologically to clear each height on your first attempt.

“Getting your height on the first attempt is important because it boosts your confidence for the next jump, and also it may intimidate the other team,” he said. “When I broke the school record, I came in at 13 feet. I missed my first two attempts and I got it on my third attempt so I almost scratched out.

He holds the Brownstown Central school record at 14-feet-1, which he set at a home meet last spring.

Bollinger said his favorite away track is the Indiana University track where the state meet is conducted.

“Just to get to state I think it will take 13-6 or 14 feet,” he said. “This year, I’m hoping to get 15 or 16 feet. It’s going to take lots and lots of jumps.”

Jacob’s brother, Caleb, a sophomore at Brownstown, cleared 11 feet recently at an indoor meet.

“He’s way ahead of where I was as a sophomore,” Jacob said.

Both boys are members of a club based in Shelbyville, Kentucky.

“Being in a club helps a lot because they usually have better coaches than your high school,” Jacob said. “At Brownstown we don’t have a pole coach that has pole-vaulted in the past.

“When I go down to Shelbyville we get to jump with elite jumpers, and there is also a club in Indianapolis and I get to jump with the Pike Central coach and the coach at Hamilton Southeastern.”

Bollinger said he has enjoyed attending Brownstown Central.

“I love being a student at Brownstown,” he said. “I like the small school and knowing everybody. I want to stay healthy this year.”

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”Bollinger File” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

Name: Jacob Bollinger

School; Brownstown Central

Parents: Todd and Kandi Bollinger

Sibling: Caleb, Kyle

Sports: track and field 4 years

Athletic highlights: school pole vault record 14-1, conference champion, sectional champion, state qualifier

Organizations: Kentucky Elite Athletics

Plans after high school: attend DePauw University, pole vault

Favorite food: sushi

Favorite movie: Step Brothers

Favorite team: Indiana University basketball