Huntley Project teammates Garrett Frieling and Rachael Buzanowski have the best pole vaults marks in Class B this season.
They’re both “smart” and “dedicated” jumpers, according to their coach Dallas Cranford.
And they both like to pause at the end of the runway before beginning their run that typically ends in a cleared bar. So what are the Red Devil seniors thinking about in the moments before they take their first steps towards the pit?
“Well, I kind of keep that to myself,” laughed the soft-spoken Frieling, who likes to “go with the flow” by his own accord.
Buzanowski is a little more candid and reveals that she has “a little routine I go with every time that just kind of settles me and gets me ready to go.”
“I focus on the bar and focus on the box,” she continued, “and just picture myself going over the bar.”
Going over the bar hasn’t been much of a question for either vaulter this season. Buzanowski’s personal-best height of 11 feet, 3 inches is the best in Class B by nearly two feet. If she matches that at this weekend’s State B track and field meet in Butte, she’ll tie the class record.
But Buzanowski has higher goals in mind.
“I really want that state record. I really want to set it,” Buzanowski said. “And I would also like to beat Bailey’s school record that she set at 11-6.”
Bailey Cranford, Dallas’ daughter and a freshman vaulter at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah, cleared 11-6 as a senior to set the Huntley Project school record.
“(Bailey) was real good, and I think Rachael’s just right there,” said Dallas Cranford, who has been coaching the Red Devil vaulters off and on for 10 years. “Rachael is probably going to be as good or better as I’ve ever coached, I mean, if she finishes. I think Rachael’s going to go 11-6.”
Buzanowski admits she’s aiming for 11-7 and knows what she needs to improve on – “I need to make sure I shoot myself up a little bit more,” she said – and she’ll have her teammates there, encouraging her along the way. She’ll be there to support Frieling and junior Quincy Wittman in their pursuits of state hardware, too.
Frieling has transitioned to bigger poles in recent weeks, which has kind of led to a one-step-back-two-steps-forward stretch in his development.
“He’s getting into the pit on the bigger pole,” said Cranford,” so by the time state gets here, we’re hoping for some bigger marks.
“He’s jumping better than anybody right now. If he keeps going like he’s going, I expect him to be right up there at the top.”
Frieling has been at the top of the Class B deep list most of the season. His mark of 13-6, a personal-best height he’s cleared multiple times this spring, is six inches better than the best vaults for Tristin Lihme of Eureka and Cody McCloud of Manhattan.
McCloud beat Frieling at the Southern B divisional meet. Both athletes cleared 13-0, but McCloud had fewer missed attempts. Wittman placed third by clearing 12-0.
“It’s working on those bigger poles, it’s a lot different,” Frieling conceded. “When you start getting up on those bigger ones, it’s a lot different jump.
“My goal is 14 at the end of the year. 13-6, it’s a good jump, but I want to go higher.”