Walsh vaulting to state
Anyone who attended a Woodstock North High School boys track meet this season might have seen a Thunder athlete running around but not actually competing in a race. Senior Jon Walsh competes in high jump, long jump and pole vault and, because of the layout of some track facilities, the jumping specialist often has to run back and forth to each event on time.
“It’s a good thing,” said WNHS head track and field coach John Fredericks. “He’s very active. He’s the kind of kid that, if he had free time, it would disrupt him.
“He’s a ball of energy. He is always moving. You could compare him to the Energizer Bunny. He always has to be doing something.”
Walsh is on the verge of becoming the first boys track and field team member from WNHS to qualify for the IHSA state meet. He has cleared 15 feet, 6 inches in the pole vault, while the state-qualifying height is 13-6.
Walsh said he set a goal for himself at the beginning of the school year – win pole vault at the IHSA state meet.
“I told my coach I was going to go 15 feet and get first place in state this year,” Walsh said. “They thought I was joking, but I set a goal this year because last year I missed qualifying height.”
Last year, Walsh’s best vault was 12-9 and he spent the entire summer working to improve, practicing about three times a week.
“I really stepped it up over the summer,” Walsh said. “You’ve got to get it second nature for it to work.”
Fredericks said he believes Walsh has the potential to clear 16 feet and noted the winning height for Class 2A at state was 14-6.
“He has a very good shot of going to state and placing with the idea and mindset he could be a state champ,” Fredericks said.
Walsh may qualify for two other events at the state meet. He has officially cleared 6-2 in the high jump (6-4 unofficially). The qualifying height is 6-3, and he has recorded 22-1 in the long jump, with 22 as the qualifying distance.
Fredericks said the key to Walsh’s success, besides being a natural athlete, is his ability to learn quickly and his determination to be the best.
“Jon’s a very visual learner,” Fredericks said. “You can show him things and he picks them up right away. … When he has an interest in something, he picks it up and is very determined to be the very best at it.”
When not competing or running back and forth to events, Walsh likes to help his teammates. At the Rockford Guilford Invitational May 4, Walsh spent time helping freshman teammate Jimmy Krenger with his pole vault technique. Krenger later set a personal best of 11-6.
“I feel because I am a senior I need to help them out and get them better,” Walsh said.
“Jon’s so willing to share his experiences,” Fredericks said. “He’s gone from a total novice to the success he has now. It’s just awesome to see him share what he has learned.”
After high school, Walsh said he is hoping he can compete as a decathlete in college, something Fredericks said that may be ideal for him.
“He is a diverse athlete, and he can do so many things,” Fredericks said. “He has the ability to be a decathlete. It is something he would probably thrive at. He would have so many things to work on that he wouldn’t get bored or distracted.”
Woodstock North will participate in the IHSA Class 2A regional meet Friday, May 18, at Richmond-Burton High School. The IHSA Class 2A state meet will be held Thursday to Saturday, May 24 to 26, in Charleston.