San Antonio, Texas –Jacob Ulbricht had a breakthrough outing this past week.
After being stuck on 14-6 in pole vaulting, the Smithson Valley senior surpassed that mark with a 15-4 clearing.
Later in the day, he overcame his 42.00 time in the 300-meter hurdles with a season-best 41.10.
Ulbricht’s accomplishment didn’t come at a major meet. Instead it happened at a dual meet with New Braunfels, but that didn’t matter.
It was still a potential springboard leading into next week’s District 27-4A Meet.
“I’m feeling better than ever,” Ulbricht said. “I was stuck a long time and I actually improved in both pole vaulting and running. I just kept grinding and didn’t stop.
“Every day at practice I worked harder. It’s right before district, too and that helps.”
Ulbricht and his teammates get another change to tune-up during today’s New Braunfels Canyon Meet.
Then, it gets down to serious business as Smithson Valley athletes will be trying to qualify for the Region IV Meet at the 27-4A Meet.
The top three finishers in each event advance.
Ulbricht missed out on qualifying last year, so there is a sense of urgency since this his final high school track season.
While most vaulters specialize strictly in that event, Ulbricht chooses to broaden his horizons by competing in running events.
“I love doing the hurdles and the mile relay,” Ulbricht said. “When I was in eighth grade (Smithson Valley) went to state in the mile relay and got third. I said I wanted to be on the mile relay state team. I love that event, because it’s the last of the meet.
“We’re getting better. Everyone is healthy. When we’re not injured, we have a pretty good team,” Ulbricht added.
Being involved in four events makes for a busy day. As soon as the field events are over, Ulbricht’s is preparing for the hurdles. After finishing the 300, it’s time for the grand finale.
Ulbricht goes about his business with the same rock solid mentality he displayed during football season.
“In football, I learned about discipline and hard work,” Ulbricht said. “When things aren’t going well, football helps you overcome adversity.
“If I want to get better I have to keeping going harder. It’s competing. That’s what keeps me going.”
Still, pole vaulting is Ulbricht’s specialty. It started when his father and Smithson Valley assistant coach Doug Ulbricht introduced him to the event at an early age.
Ulbricht loved zipping through the air and clearing the bar. Through the years he has taken his passion to greater heights.
The best thing about it is working with his father.
“I try to do what my dad says, because he knows what best,” Ulbricht said. “We video each meet and then go home to watch it. We go over what I need to work on to get better.
“It’s very cool having my father as my coach. I can talk more openly and freely. It’s not all work with him. It’s also being with family. It’s been nice.”
Now, the younger Ulbricht is ready to do something extra special.
Pat Turner is a San Antonio-based freelance writer.