By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– It was a season of promise for North Salem Junior Austin Cates.
Coming off of a promising summer in which he PR’d at the USATF Oregon Association Junior Olympics with Valley Track Club, a jump of 12-feet-3.25-inch jump to win the State Title and breaking in a new 13-foot pole when his Junior Season came to a screeching halt as he hoped to have reached
“We were able to start vaulting before school was out for summer and both my good vaulting friends were there with me. Our coach (Connor Foley) was a college vaulter and had many other years teaching at McKay. He was able to get me on a 13-foot pole that I was struggling to get on from the past season. Getting on that pole is what got me my 1-foot PR at the USATF Oregon Association JO championships at 12’ 3.25”,” said Cates.
“Missing this season really hurt our whole team was bound to break records, me included. The school record for NS is 13’ 6.25” and with the new pole I got this year it should have made it happen. It’s unfortunate but luckily I am a junior and have next season to look forward to.”
Breaking the 12-foot barrier would have put Cates as the best sophomore vaulter had he done it in-season last year entering this year. Increasing his confidence moving forward.
“The PR was a big deal for me braking 12ft which would have made me North’s best sophomore vaulter had I done that in season,” said Cates. “It gave me lots of confidence and I thought I would only grow from there since there was plenty of room for improvement. Even if I didn’t get a PR my form and technique continued to improve.
After winning the State meet over the summertime, Cates went onto finishing third at the Regional Junior Olympics with a 11-feet-11.75-inch jump before jumping 11-feet-5.75-inch in the heat at Sacramento, California. A jump that had him finished 22nd in the National level. Cates pointed out to not feeling stressed or pressured in the event knowing he made it to this stage, he went out there and performed.
And as bittersweet as this year was, seeing the opportunity of cracking into the history books going on the way side, Cates is driven to get back to work this summer to work on his craft entering next year.
“The cancellation of spring hurts because it gives me one less year of experience others in the record books have,” said Cates. “If I want to make it up it would require me to get some summer vaulting VTC hopes to provide and winter vaulting if possible to fill the gap between it and spring season.”