Junior sees big improvement in the pole vault

Tim Aanensen defers a lot of credit to those that helped him advance so quickly in just one season of pole vaulting. That includes coach YouTube.

For much of the season, the video website provided the instruction he needed to become a regional qualifier. Then, the assistance of a coach from a rival school helped him grow into the second best pole vaulter in the state.

Aanensen, a junior at Central Cabarrus, came a long way in just a few months. He hopes a greater understanding of pole vaulting will help him vault above his opponents next season.

Aanensen first tried track and field as an eighth grader at C.C. Griffin Middle. He was spending a lot of time in the air with his events then too, competing in the long jump and high jump, as well as the 4 x 100-meter relay.

As a freshman at Central Cabarrus, Aanensen joined the track and field team and ran the 200-meter dash and the 4 x 200 relay. He tried pole vaulting in a couple of meets but never cleared nine feet and soon gave up on track.

"I didn't have the commitment for it," said Aanensen. "I was a freshman. I didn't see myself getting anywhere that year."

Being older and more mature, his interest spiked in the sport again.

"I wanted to get better at it," he said. "I don't like being bad at anything."

After not participating in any sports during his sophomore year, Aanensen developed an appreciation for his weight training class at school. His teacher, football coach Chris Shinn, talked him into playing football his junior year.

At 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, Aanensen developed into a good defensive end and was named the Vikings' most improved defensive player. He wanted to stay active between football seasons, so Aanensen decided to give track and field another try.

Central's track and field coach Garrett Dellinger leveled with Aanensen. Dellenger knew how to coach jumps and sprints but he, nor any of the coaches at Central, knew much about pole vaulting.

Aanensen reached eight feet on his first attempt in the pre-season, but he knew he didn't have any form. That's when he started watching YouTube videos to learn more about the event.

Most important for Aanensen was learning how to position his body as he cleared the bar. Instead of sliding over on his back, Aanensen learned to roll over the bar. Suddenly, he was clearing 12 feet.

It was a height Aanensen reached in his second meet of the season. But without any further instruction, 12 feet is where he stayed for most of the season.

Dellinger realized how serious and competitive Aanensen was getting with pole vaulting. He made a phone call to Mount Pleasant coaches Mike Johns and Neil Pifer, who agreed to let Aanensen workout with their pole vaulting assistant coach Jim Clark.

It was the week before the 3A Midwest regionals and Clark, a local guru who has coached several state champions for the Tigers, taught Aanensen about striding and carrying the bar.

At the regional meet at Mount Pleasant, Aanensen hit a personal best at 12-feet, 6-inches and placed third, qualifying him for the state meet.

Aanensen worked with Clark two more times prior to the states. At the championship meet, Aanensen reached 13-6, tying him for the day's best vault. But Aanensen scratched on more of his leaps and finished second to a vaulter from Franklin.

"I couldn't believe it, that from coach Clark, I got that much better in such short amount of time," said Aanensen. "I was just glad to be at states. I didn't think I would place."

Aanensen is looking forward to off-season workouts and competitions. He's already telling himself that nothing will get between him and a state championship next year.