BY: SAMUEL BILDERBECK
Bilderbeck won the 2012 Class 3A Pole Vault Championship on May 24. He is a sports writer and aspiring journalist for The Alamosan, Alamosa High School’s monthly newspaper.
Alamosa, Colorado–I sat there in Bayfield watching the end of a pole vault competition that I wasn’t a part of. I wasn’t a part of it because I had gotten out one height before this, and had placed third. I had vaulted one foot under my personal best. I had just lost to two vaulters, with less than a week until the state track meet.
This was not the way I wanted to go into the state track meet. I wanted to go into it with as much confidence as possible. There were many times that week where I thought in my head, “wow if I can’t beat them at the league meet, then how am I going to do it at state.”
In the beginning of that week I questioned myself so much. I was nervous and was not confident. I remembered a quote that I thought about, that completely changed my mentality. “Sometimes in life you get the short end of the stick, and that’s all you get. And the sooner in life you learn to accept that, you’re seriously going to fly.” That last weekend I did not get what I wanted. I lost the battle.
At this time I said to myself, “I’m going back for the war.” For the first time in my life, I learned to accept that. I learned to accept the fact that things just didn’t go my way.
So that Thursday our track team made our way to the state meet at JeffCo Stadium in Lakewood. It was a beautiful day and I felt zero nerves. I was not nervous at all. I thought, “wait, there is something wrong here.” This close to competition time, and I wasn’t even feeling the slightest flutter in my stomach. I used this to my advantage and had as much fun as possible.
Standing there with all of the other vaulters warming up and I am having a fun time. It was probably the most fun vault competition of the year. Once we got to 13 feet there were four vaulters left. I was the highest seed so I was of course last. The first two vaulters missed their first attempts. The competitor just before me was the second seed. I stood behind, watching him vault. Just before my eyes I see him sky 13 feet on his first attempt. Once this happened I knew I had no choice. Its either I clear this right here and right now or I miss and have a slim chance to be the State Champion.
I run down the runway with confidence, and I go over 13 feet with my hip grazing the bar. Laying there and looking up at the sky, I pray it stays on. Luckily it stayed on, and I was now sitting in first place because of misses. One more vaulter made 13 feet but it was on his third attempt so at this point I am leading the contest by one miss. All three of us vaulters had great attempts at 13’6, but no one prevailed.
At this point I had not known I was victorious. I thought I would have to have a jump off with the other vaulters. We gathered around the pole vault judge and he says, “I know who won.” I give a shocked look. He walks up to me and shakes my hand saying, “Congratulations you’re the state champion.”
It was the most surreal feeling ever. I could not stop smiling. I had a permanent grin on my face. The thing that came into my mind the most after this all happened was the week before. I easily could have gone into that competition with no confidence and as nervous as possible, but I didn’t. I had fun, and I learned to accept the fact that if this doesn’t work out, it’s ok.
That day wasn’t just for me, but it was for my teammates, family and coaches. They stood along that fence the whole time, cheering me on and supporting me. I am so grateful for that. I am grateful for all those people in my life. I could not have gotten on the podium without them. I love them all, and they are the ones who motivate me to succeed. more