Lincoln Southeast pole vaulter Skyler Peterson will be scoring points for the Knights’ boys track team at the Lincoln Public Schools Championships on Thursday at the Beechner Athletic Complex.
But the senior will be rooting for the other pole vaulters from the other five LPS schools to do as well as they possibly can and register personal bests. That’s easy to do, since they practice together every day at Beechner under the same coach — Chris Johnson.
“We’re like a family, so the LPS meet is more like a glorified practice than anything else,” said Peterson, the defending LPS champion. “We try to have fun at this meet.”
The fun may just be getting started for Peterson, last year’s Class A state runner-up. He leads the Class A season chart (and is third overall) with a best vault of 14 feet, 9 inches, but that’s short of the 15-6 he cleared last season at the Heartland Athletic Conference meet and the 15-0 he registered at state.
Johnson’s training philosophy stresses peak performance during the championship portion of the season and that the first part of the spring is simply a gradual buildup to the grand finale in May.
The wintry weather at the start of track season cut down practice opportunities and knocked everything slightly off-schedule.
“Right now it’s about putting those building blocks in place that will help him hit those big heights later in the season,” said Johnson, who has had 10 boys and four girls Class A state champions during his career.
“Skyler brings a lot more speed to the runway (this season) and a lot better jumping skills,” Johnson said. “He’s outjumping the 15-foot poles he’s been on, and now it’s a matter of getting comfortable on the 15-7s.
“I know what he’s capable of. Now it’s just a matter of getting that bar up and going for it.”
While Peterson, a Minnesota State track recruit, won’t directly compete against Gothenburg’s Tyce Hruza or Seward’s Chase Berry this season, the Class B seniors are definitely on his mind at every practice and meet.
Hruza, last year’s all-class gold medalist, broke the state record earlier this month by vaulting 16-7¼. Berry is tied for seventh all-time with his 16-1 vault at the Waverly Invitational on April 5.
“They’ve definitely given me something to shoot for,” said Peterson, whose personal best is a 15-8 during the Aurora Street Vault last summer. “Everything is geared to peak at the end of the season, and I plan on being right there with them.”
Babcock to be honored
During the intermission between the preliminaries and finals, longtime Southeast Special Education department chairman Sandra Babcock will be presented the LPS Community Service Award annually given out at the track meet.
Through the years, Babcock has spearheaded efforts to organize Special Olympics and Unified Sports at Southeast. Babcock, who is battling cancer, is a past winner of the Mike Troester Outstanding Educator Award sponsored by the LPS Foundation.