Juniors Kalin Lamus and Rachel Rogers joke with each other and stretch before practice starts. They stand on a large blue pad, load up for the jump and perform frontflips – making it look effortless. The two are on the gymnastics team and have been competitive in gymnastics since around third grade. However today they are not inside a gym for gymnastics practice. Instead, they are on the sunny track, getting ready for pole vault practice.
After eight years of being competitive gymnasts, Lamus and Rogers have taken the skills they learned from gymnastics and now make up two of the four varsity pole vaulters at East.
After searching for a spring sport to do together, they ended up trying out for the pole vaulting team, as gymnasts usually are able to pick up on the sport due to their athleticism.
“Our coach told us to give it a try,” Lamus said. “My cousin got a scholarship to college for pole vaulting so I wanted to try, and I pretty much dragged Rachel into it.”
At it’s core, pole vaulting is very similar to two specific gymnastics events.
“Vault is very similar because you have to have a strong run that you also have to have to pole vault,” Rogers said. “Another is uneven bars because you have to use your back flexibility and strength.”
On their first day of practice Rogers and Lamus saw the 10 other girls trying to pole vault, and all 10 struggled.
“It is very awkward to learn the basics of pole vaulting,” East pole vaulting coach Cooper Merrill said. “It takes kids a few weeks to get used to the basic things. From there, it just takes awhile to perfect the technique. It is a very technical event that can take years to really master certain aspects of it.”
But Lamus and Rogers stood out from these other 10 girls. They started off by clearing six feet and have since worked their way up to eight feet.
Their rigorous gymnastics background had prepared them both mentally and physically. After hours of training in the gym, they had built strong upper bodies and achieved extreme flexibility. Their mental toughness, gained from performing dangerous stunts in gymnastics, allows them to contort their bodies and have no fear falling after completing the vault.
“If someone is doing gymnastics then they are usually strong and acrobatic,” Merrill said. “So they have some natural ability that tends to make them better pole vaulters.”
To achieve this athleticism, Lamus and Rogers spent lots of time in the gym. The two’s gymnastic backgrounds were very similar, starting by taking classes around the age of three and became more competitive in early elementary school. A normal week would consist of around 15 hours of practice, with one hour of conditioning a practice.
It was so physically demanding that the overall exhaustion led both girls to take a break from gymnastics from eighth grade until freshman year. They both then picked it up again sophomore year.
After their quick success in the sport, however, the two still have higher goals for themselves.
“Getting 10 feet would be amazing but I would be super happy with nine feet six inches,” Lamus said.