Jags’ Spear ready for state title chance

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 25, 2006

It&8217;s been an uphill climb this season for Spain Park senior pole-vaulter Chris Spear.

The Jags&8217; standout athlete suffered an ankle injury earlier this season that threatened to end his career in a very lackluster fashion.

&8220;Hurting my ankle got me timid,&8221; Spear said. &8220;I wouldn&8217;t plant for awhile after that.&8221;

Spear would fail to clear a height in two of his next three meets following the injury, but worked tirelessly to get back into form before the section and state meets that loomed closer with every day.

&8220;We had to break him down and start all over again,&8221; Spain Park head track coach Michael Zelwak said. &8220;I&8217;ve seen Chris grow up a lot over the past two years, he is such a hard worker and very dedicated.&8221;

The hard work paid off for Spear as he returned to full strength two weeks ago and won the boys&8217; pole vault at the Mountain Brook Invitational.

Now Spear has a berth in the state championships in his sights, needing only to finish in the top two at this week&8217;s Class 6A sectional track meet at Mountain Brook.

Winning the sectional, however, is only one step in Spear&8217;s long journey to achieving his goals.

&8220;I think about the state meet a lot,&8221; Spear said. &8220;I&8217;d like to break the state record.&8221;

Currently at 16 feet, 11 inches, the overall Alabama boys&8217; pole vault state record has been in Spear&8217;s sights for quite some time.

&8220;I wanted to break it since I was little,&8221; he said. &8220;I&8217;ve had a couple of attempts at it in competition this year and feel like it&8217;s definitely something I can do.&8221;

Spear&8217;s current personal outdoor best measures in at 15 feet, seven inches &8212;

a height he has been trying to better since he reached it two summers ago.

&8220;I want to get it more than anything,&8221; Spear said. &8220;I&8217;ve been stuck at this height for a year and three months.&8221;

Zelwak said he believes Spear has the ability to reach the milestone.

&8220;He&8217;s grown through a lot of disappointments,&8221; he said. &8220;He&8217;s been battling a lot of different things this season, but I think he&8217;s ready to give it his best shot.&8221;