Unlike any other event in high school track, a pole vaulter experiences the highs and lows of the sport – literally and figuratively.
There’s the high of soaring airborne almost 15 feet and the low of the thud on the padded cushion after landing in the pit. There’s the high of seeing the bar still standing, the low of seeing it topple away.
But last May, things turned into a very different high and low for the Christ Presbyterian Academy vaulter Ryan Cook.
As a freshman, Cook finished in a tie for first in the state A/AA meet, but ended up second due to one more miss. Hopes were very high for a championship his sophomore year in 2007.
But just two days before the meet, Cook was taking some practice vaults at MTSU when he had a bad plant and fell awkwardly on the metal plate in front of the pit.
“It was really scary,’’ he said, recalling the event which instantly ended his title hopes. “I didn’t have any feeling in my legs, and I had some tingling in my hands,’’ he said. “I was praying I wasn’t paralyzed.”
Thankfully he wasn’t, but it was bad enough. Cook suffered broken pelvic bones, both front and back. “They drove me to my dad’s office (his father Greg Cook is an orthopaedic surgeon) and took X-Rays. I was on crutches for about two weeks,’’ he said.
In late June, Cook began “very slow jogging’’ to get back into shape, and in mid-July, he began to fast jog, and in August, he was near full-speed. His diligent recovery efforts have paid off.
The wiry 5-10, 155-pound Cook has come back better than ever this with spectacular results this month. He has stamped himself as the odds-on favorite to win his event in the A/AA division in the track and field meet is held next month at MTSU.
In the recent Great Eight meet at Vanderbilt, he won his event with a 14-0 leap, finishing ahead of top-notch MBA vaulters Christian Waddey and Leland Howe, who each had 13-6 vaults.
He followed that up with a personal best 14-6 leap in the Vol Classic in Knoxville April 19, easily winning that event. Then last week, he won the city meet at Harpeth Hall with another 14-6 jump. He missed on three attempts at 14-9. “My takeoffs weren’t the best, and it was pretty windy,’’ he said.
Caleb Lee, Cook’s CPA teammate, won the state pole vault at MTSU with a leap of 13-6 last year. Had Cook not gotten injured, it was all but certain the Lion vaulters would have finished 1-2 in the state meet.
However, Lee, who is also a junior, did not come out for track this spring.
“He just decided he didn’t want to come out,’’ Cook said. “He has been very supportive of me through my recovery and this spring.’’
“Ryan has worked incredibly hard to return from his injury,’’ said CPA track coach Mark Miller. “He won the Great Eight, then he got a personal best in the Vol Classic.’’
There’s more incentive. Ryan’s older brother Jeff Cook was an All-SEC pole vaulter at UT.
“I got a letter from them (UT) last fall, expressing interest,’’ he said. “That got me even more motivated to do well.’’
Cook’s next goal is the Midstate A/AA Region where he is the favorite.
SUB-REGIONS: The A/AA Region has divided into two sub-section meets, to be held at old TPS, hosted by ML King (East sub-section) and at Lipscomb (West) on May 6 and 8.
The sectional finals will be held at Lipscomb May 13 (field event finals and 3200 run finals) and May 15 (running event finals). Those winners qualify for state.
The DII Middle Region decathlon will be held at MBA Monday, May 5 (pentathlon finals) and Tuesday (decathlon finals) Tuesday, May 6. The DII running and field events are also at MBA May 13, 14 and 16.
SWEENY WINS: Defending state A/AA girls pentathlon champion Kirstyn Sweeney advanced to state again by winning her second straight A/AA Middle Region championship last week at FRA.
Competing despite a case of mono, Sweeney edged out Pearl-Cohn’s Brielle Moore, 2,986 to 2,925, clinching by winning the final race, the 800. Both athletes won two events – Sweeney the100 and 800 races, while Moore took the long jump and high jump.
Les Gilbert of Page won the boys decathlon. Chase Turpin and Jasper Martin of FRA were second and fourth. The top two finishers in both pentathlon and decathlon automatically qualify for state.
MCCALLIE WINS CARTER: McCallie, the two-time defending DII state champ, swept all nine divisions (six singles, three doubles) and ran away with the 28th MBA Carter Tennis tournament Saturday at Vanderbilt. McCallie scored 36 points, MUS had 20½, and host MBA and Kentucky Country Day tied for third with 14½ each.
Jim Shaub and Richard Brunsting were the lone MBA finalists, in No. 2 doubles. MBA placed fourth in the B division at MBA, which McCallie also won.
DII BASEBALL RACE: A key DII Middle Region three-game baseball series opens today at 4:30 when Father Ryan visits rival MBA. Ryan is trying to catch BGA for first in the regular season standings, with MBA close by.
BGA lost its first DII series of the season as BA beat the Wildcats 2-of-3 last week. BGA salvaged the final game Thursday with a 3-2 squeaker. Jacob Simpson (4-2) picked up the win, and Vanderbilt signee Navery Moore pitched two scoreless innings of relief to collect the save.
GOODPASTURE ROLLING: Defending AA state champ Goodpasture finished 9-1 in District 8-AA, rolling past Greenbrier 10-0 last week as Turner Cripps pitched a no-hitter and third baseman Andrew Rushing hit two homers. Rushing just missed a third one, hitting it barely foul. He added another in an 8-1 win at Lipscomb Thursday.
In a Salute to the Troops game at BGA last Friday, Adam Adkins (8-0) pitched Goodpasture to a 10-1 win over the Wildcats.
MBA, HARPETH HALL WIN CITY: MBA (boys) and host Harpeth Hall (girls) won the 49th annual Nashville Track and Field championship last Friday, sponsored by Hill Center.
Just as they did in the Great Eight, Lipscomb’s Zach Rogers and Hillsboro’s Quanisha Sales blazed to 100 and 200 wins and were most valuable athletes of the meet. Rogers also won the long jump and was on the winning 4X200 relay team. Sales was on the winning 4X200 team.
EZELL’S QUEEN HITS SEVENTH: Ezell-Harding senior first baseman Samantha (Sam) Queen slammed two more home runs last week in Eagle wins over Lipscomb and East Lit, giving her seven for the season. Ezell can clinch the District 9-AA regular season title with a home win over Lipscomb today at Freudenthal Field.
FRANKLIN NAMES COACH: Franklin High named Stan Eggleston, a former Brentwood assistant, as its new girls basketball coach last week. He replaces Grover Levy, who was Rebel coach the past two years.
RYAN’S WIESMAN SIGNS: Father Ryan’s Linsie Wiesman will sign with Sewanee on an academic scholarship to play basketball Wednesday at 9:15 a.m. the school. Last week, Ryan’s Matt Nichols signed with Carson-Newman and Kevin Mix signed with Kentucky Christian for football.