Woodland Park pole vaulters Gunnar Grace, left, and Chase Graves
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Woodland Park pole vaulters Gunnar Grace, left, and Chase Graves are ranked in the top 10 in state. Graves medaled last year at the state meet, finishing ninth.

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Three Woodland Park pole vaulters are in prime position to make a run for a giant leap at next month’s state track-and-field meet.

Senior Chase Graves and juniors Davey Schoenberger and Gunnar Grace have been in the top 18 in qualifying all season.

Graves went to state last spring and finished ninth with a personal best of 12-6 at Jefferson County Stadium in Lakewood.

“I’m setting a personal goal of 14 (feet) this year,” Graves said. “I’m hoping that will get me first.”

Graves’s best jump this season is 12-1. The school record is 13 feet.

“He cleared the bar by two feet when he jumped 12-1,” said Woodland Park jumps coach Jesse Martinez. “I definitely think he can get more height. He’s using a 14-6 pole now. He needs more speed and better technique. It takes a lot of speed to get that thing vertical. If you can turn that pole to vertical and get completely up on his technique, he will be able to do great things.”

Graves said overcoming fear is a challenge.

“Over the years, I’ve learned to get that fear out of my system,” he said. “But there is some fear involved getting on bigger poles.”

Graves is the unquestioned leader of the vaulters, and he works with the jumps coaches at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

“Chase always keeps the energy up,” Grace said. “No matter how bad of a day he’s having, or someone else is having, he’ll make it a good day. It’s great to have someone to back-and-forth with (and) look up to as far as vaulting. He will break the school record soon.”

Martinez started the pole-vault program about four years ago and has coached all three vaulters.

“They are just hard-working kids,” Martinez said. “They work hard in the off-season and they’ve bought into the program. They’re doing really well with it.”

Pikes Peak Newspapers Sports Reporter

Pikes Peak Newspapers Sports Reporter

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