Vaulting his way to state

Sports Editor

Holy Angels junior  pole vaulter Alex Gillard had a strong season for the Stars’ track and field squad.

Alex Gillard clears the 12-foot-6 inch mark at the Class 2A state meet June 9, at Hamline University. (Sun Current staff photo by Jason Olson)

Gillard made his mark early, as he set a new personal record with a 13-foot-6 inch vault to earn a spot at the Hamline Elite Meet earlier this season.

Gillard’s continued success extended into his postseason meets, as he won the Section 3AA pole vault title on his way to the state meet. While he was able to clear a 12-ffot-6 inch mark, Gillard finished state in 12th place.

“[Gillard] has really progressed each year,” Holy Angels head track and field coach Jim Gunderson said. “To see his progression each year, I think his best last year was 12-6, and now his bets for the year is 13-6, even if he didn’t quite hit that at the meet.

“It was a huge stage and the kind of experienced that for the first time.

For Gillard, he was just happy to advance to the state meet.

“I’m just awe-struck a little bit,” Gillard said. “I did not expect [to advance to the state tournament], but it’s a product of all my hard work.”

Gillard didn’t have the easiest of experiences as he looked to complete his season, as he had to overcome adversity when his pole snapped during the section meet. Eastview offered Gillard its extra pole, the pole Gillard brought with him to the state meet, and he was able to complete his section and state experience.

“This all just shows you the community that pole vault develops around,” Gillard said. “He could have not lent me his pole and had his guys get better, but he just decided to help a fellow pole vaulter out.

“I have immense respect for the Eastview coach.”

After completing the state meet, Gillard said he is more motivated than ever to train in the offseason to prepare for better results next season.

“I’m going to definitely just continue training, continue working,” Gillard said. “This has made me think about working harder and the leaps and bounds I can still achieve, so I’m going to work my butt off.”

Gunderson said hearing about Gillard’s intended efforts to intensify his training has been encouraging.

“It was fun to hear him after the meet talk about how he wants to go after it,” Gunderson said. “He wants to hopefully win a state title last year, so it was nice to see him learn from his mistakes and make a plan for next year.”

Contact Chris Chesky at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @MNSunSports or @SunSportsChris.