Roughly four years ago, one of Saint Stanislaus College's longest standing track and field records was broken. It looks as though that record may be eclipsed yet again.
In 1982, Pat Kergosien set a school record in the pole vault at 14' 1" that would stand until 2015 when Robert Simpson edged it by the smallest of margins.
Kergosien went on to the University of Southern Mississippi where he starred as a decathlete for the Golden Eagles and also vaulted in the regular event.
What is ironic about this whole situation is that Kergosien is still affecting the record in that event 37 years later. He coached Simpson when he broke Kergosien's record. Now, he is still coaching the pole vault at SSC and one of his current proteges, William Weber, is pushing to break the record again.
William Weber, the son of Colette and Johnny Weber, is a senior at SSC and currently the most consistent vaulter on the squad.
Weber has been running track and pole vaulting at SSC since the eighth grade. However, his interest in the pole vault really took off after he won a silver medal in the event at the Mississippi High School Activities Association state championships his sophomore year.
Weber commented, "I have been vaulting at SSC since I was in the eighth grade but I did not really become serious until I won a silver medal at the state meet my sophomore year. At that point, I really became interested in the event and wondered if I had a future in it."
Since that point in time, Weber refocused his efforts, his training and his approach to the event in a different light.
Now, he travels three times a week to Tickfaw, Louisiana, to train with Erica Fraley who competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Fraley owns and operates the Louisiana Pole Vault Compound.
Weber talked about the different phases of the vault and was very complimentary of the coaches that have helped him in each phase. He stated, "Coach DP Daigle, the SSC head coach, has really helped my speed on the runway these last couple of seasons. It was an area of my vault that needed work and he has helped me increase my speed. Coach Pat Kergosien has helped from the beginning with every phase of the vault. But, he has really helped critique my vault in the air with my turn and push off. Coach Fraley in Tickfaw has helped me realize that the plant with the pole is extremely important. She calls it 'the moment of truth' and it really is. Coach Fraley has been helping me get taller at the takeoff and using a bigger pole so I can vault higher."
Weber has learned the intricate details of the event and he is now much further in his development than any vaulter prior in school history.
This past Saturday, Weber placed third at the AllState Sugar Bowl Classic in New Orleans with a 14' vault. That vault marked the first time that a SSC vaulter hit that mark this early in a season.
SSC head coach DP Daigle stated, "William Weber has been pole vaulting for us since he was in junior high. He really started taking it seriously last year and is reaping the benefit of that now. He was appointed captain of the team this year and has really been putting the team first. He does everything we ask of him and is constantly working hard at practice. He is focused. He has gotten a lot of help from Coach Erica Fraley of the Louisiana Pole Vault Compound, he sees her twice a week most weeks. As far as his jump at the Sugar Bowl Classic clearing 14 feet was a big jump for him. He had been stuck at 13-6 for some time. He got third and scored SSC 6 points. In my seven years as head coach, I've had only two other athletes score points at The Sugar Bowl Classic - Tommy Reeder and Raymond Mion. So he's in good company. I really think he's coming into his own and will probably break Robert Simpson's school record of 14-2."
Weber has made competing in track and field a goal of his in college. However, he knows that he needs to hit 15' to be able to compete at that level. When asked of his perfect jump, Weber replied, "My approach has to be fast down the runway. Coach Daigle has been preparing me for this the last two years. My plant with the pole in the box has to be strong and I have to be my tallest with the pole at the takeoff so that I can get a good bend in the pole to send me up. Coach Fraley has really increased my confidence with the takeoff and bigger pole. My turn and push off in the air has to be free of the bar. Coach Kergosien has been critiquing each twist. To get perfect in those phases would be the perfect jump and, hopefully, a 15' jump at the state meet which would set a 4A record. It is achievable, I just need to do it."
Weber's ultimate college destination is the United States Naval Academy and it is where he would like to compete along with another SSC track and field alum in Tommy Reeder who throws the discus. Weber has completed his interview and his physical along with obtaining the two necessary Congressional references. He is in state of waiting which can be crucial. Track and field have occupied the void waiting for an answer along with his other commitments including the SSC football team, SSC track team, National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, and Student Ministry team.
Weber ended, "My parents have helped me remain grounded. They have been a tremendous support system. My mother has helped me stay focused and my father has really tried to learn the vault so that he can offer objective criticism when coaches are not there. I have looked up to my older brother, Thomas, who plays college football and I have tried to be a positive influence on my younger brother, Louis. Without my family, coaches and friends, I would not be in this position today. I am extremely thankful to them and humbled by their support."
As Weber trains for his perfect attempt at the MHSAA state meet, he patiently waits for the decision on his ultimate goal where he hopes to study oceanography or environmental science.
The motto of the US Naval Academy is Ex Scientia Tridens which means "Through Knowledge, Sea Power". Weber has sought out the knowledge and 'sees' his power. It is up to the Naval Academy to see the power of Weber's knowledge and seize it.