GIRLS WINNER: Amanda Gale - Senior @ Calvary Christian
Pole Vault City coach Bobby Haeck has been working with Amanda Gale since she was a freshman. Over that time Gale has worked on many phases of her vault including her plant, her take off and her top end. The Calvary Christian senior also had to balance her pole vaulting with an illness CVID. Haeck says that caused them to make some technical changes based on the number vaults she was able to take at a particular time.
"Amanda was most affected by the illness until this year when her treatment was changed from large doses to smaller more frequent doses. When she was really weak we would limit her vaults to a certain number, like five or eight, and she would try to complete as many of those vaults as possible. She has become an incredible pole vaulter over the past three years and is one of the strongest people I have ever met. She has worked through her illness and has never complained."
Last year, Gale finished runner-up to her sister Emily and had a fantastic junior year. Fast forward to the 2013 postseason and Amanda was ready to win her own state title. Coach Haeck ordered some new poles to make the transition to the 13' Pace Carbon Poles even easier and instilling a huge boost of confidence going into the state meet. Haeck says the game plan coming was to focus on the first five bars and to make each on the first attempt.
"We had to completely ditch the warm up before the meet because we found that her energy levels couldn't be maintained for that period of time in the heat. Amanda was able to execute the game plan to a tee and making a PR vault at 12'6" was extra special. She had very good alignment on all her vaults during the day. By the time the bar got to 12'6" Amanda was on the biggest poles she had ever been on. By getting on the bigger poles without sacrificing technique, she was able to achieve a PR on her final high school stage."
Also adding an extra factor were the windy conditions. Gale faced wind at the district and regional meets and was prepared for mother nature at the state meet. Haeck says the key to The key to windy conditions is making sure you go at the right time. He adds that they were able to coordinate the timing and stay patient which was another integral piece of the puzzle.
"We were able to coordinate that timing well and she never seemed to have a problem with the wind. Patience is critical at the state meet level. It was important for both girls to compete within themselves and not get on any emotional roller coasters during the meet. It definitely helped that both of them were on the field at the same time, similar to last year. Amanda had to watch from the stands while Emily won her first state championship"
After Amanda cleared 12'6" the first person to greet her and give her a hug was her sister Emily. The two sisters are never apart, always training together and always supporting each other. Haeck says the bond the two share is one of the strongest sibling bond's he's ever witnessed.
There is never a competition between them, only camaraderie. They are always there to give each other a hug, they are truly best friends. When Emily won her 1st state championship, Amanda was her biggest cheerleader. When Amanda was down to her last attempt last year at regionals to qualify, Emily was her biggest cheerleader. They always want each other to do their best.
Amanda and twin sister Emily will now embark on their college journey to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where they will be coached by Lon Badeaux and join former Pole Vault City teammates Mike Vani and Josh McDaniel. Haeck believes her transition to the college level will be smooth due to the coaching similarities between himself and Badeaux. Amanda's goals are to qualify for the NCAA Championships and become All-Americans. Haeck says both goals are well within reach.
"I don't think there is anything that is outside the reach of these phenomenal young women. They truly make people better when they are around, and I don't just mean in pole vaulting. They are truly amazing women. It has truly been an honor to work with Amanda and Emily Gale and I wish them all the success in life that they deserve. Their accomplishments are many and they leave behind a legacy of courage and inspiration."
BOYS WINNER: Jerimy Strainge - Senior @ Plantation American Heritage
When Jerimy Strainge came to American Heritage for his senior season it was a new school, but also a new start to an injury plagued career. Strainge was at the top of his game, the state champion in the 100/200 in 2010. Three years later he had seen more doctors, than he had state meets. People were asking where he went, but he didn't care. He had high expectations for himself. American Heritage coach Corey Hicks, who had trained Strainge for years, says he had those same expectations.
"I knew sky was the limit, but I had to take a methodical approach to ensure from diagnoses of his injury to rehab, we placed him in a position to be successful. Most of his training was initially geared towards core strength and mental rehabilitation, to get past the two year absence and regain confidence in doing what he does best..(run really fast). Once this was established there was a mixture of numerous hurdle mobility drills to reactivate the quick twitch muscles, followed by 400m type workouts to slowly work back down to the 200 and 100."
Strainge began to workout with Khari Herbert and former American Heritage standout Teray Smith who is now running for Auburn. Hicks says that training dailiy with individuals on such a high level played a tremendous factor on his mental confidence, which also lead to a laser focus. He begain focusing on the 400 meters at the beginning of the season. placing third at both the Roaring LionsTime Trials and Louie Bing Classic. Hicks had a goal of where he needed his 400 meter times to be in order to begin sprinting at high levels again. He says the short sprints combined with 4x100 and 4x400 meter relays allowed Strainge to re-establish his sprint mechanic and give him the physical strength to get back to the Jerimy Strainge of old in the 200 meters.
"Our goal for the postseason was always to run a 20. in the 200. We knew if he remained confident and focused on the task at hand, instincts and training would prevail when called on to perform."
Perform is exactly what Jerimy Strainge did at the 2A State Championships. When everyone had written him off, the senior went out in style. He posted a time of 20.97 in the prelims and followed it up with an identical 20.97, the eighth fastest time in the country. It was Strainge's third title, but first since 2010. Hicks was pleased to see all of the senior's hard work and determination finally pay off.
"I was indeed surprised and felt a sigh of relief to see the goal we established finally accomplished."
There were more surprises in store for fans. In the last event of the night, Strainge lined up on the team's 4x400 meter relay. It was a race he had only run individually twice in 2013. His leg helped American Heritage upend Lakewood and Booker T. Washington, two of the top 4x4 teams in the country coming into this race. There time of 3:14.28 was the eighth fastest in the country. Two races and two state titles for Strainge. After the performance in the 4x400 meter relay all Coach Hicks could say is wow.
"It was amazing. Yes, he ran a 46 split and to see a true sprinter embrace the 400 as he did, speaks volumes of what clearly distinguishes him apart from the norm. Awesome leadership and a true team player. I thought his night was filled with resounding thoughts of redemption, perseverance and a true testament to all athletes that suffer from adversity to never give up. He is truly a living example of all things are possible to those who believe."
"Whoever lands Jerimy Strainge is getting an old school mentality type of athlete that's full of traditional values and morals that serves as the worth of example. He has a relentless work ethic, with a champion mentality on and off the field. He's a vary rare find and whomever get's him will win the grand prize."