Holmes at home on pole vault

Ryan Perry , Staff Reporter

No one at FHS knows pole vaulting quite like senior Grant Holmes. With his technique constantly improving, he placed 10th in the New Balance Indoor Nationals on March 9 at the Armory in New York City.
“I was happy just to be there,” Holmes said. “I didn’t really care about where I placed, but getting in the top 10 was pretty cool.”
Holmes went to Fork Union Military Academy for sixth and seventh grade, where he began his pole vaulting career.
“In sixth grade, I saw pole vaulting and thought that it looked like it would be cool to try out,” Holmes said. “There was a guy jumping 14 feet, and that looked pretty beast to me as a sixth grader watching.”
Holmes has developed a technique over the years that works for him.
“I have a really good plant and swing, which is the take-off positioning,” Holmes said. “You have to have your hands up when you take off, but the top of my vault isn’t where I want it to be. You’re supposed to be inverted, and propelled straight up, but I tend to go sideways; we call it flagging out. I know exactly what I have to do, and I know exactly what I’m doing wrong, but it’s just so hard.”
The strength of Holmes’ ability has been recognized by his coach, Ted Uhler.
“This is the fourth year I’ve had him, and he enjoys the sport a lot. He’s really dedicated,” Uhler said. “He’s always looking for ways to improve. Currently, his best record is 14-7, which is five inches from a school record set in 1994, and his goal is to beat it.”
Freshmen Jimmy Filson is trying pole vaulting for the first time and admires Holmes’s talents in track and field.
“He’s absolutely amazing,” Filson said. “He’s really good at teaching, and he gives me something to aim for.”
Freshman and first time pole vaulter Ava Thornton sees vaulting as an opportunity to develop in track and field, and believes Holmes is the perfect role model.
“It’s impressive to see how far he’s come and how committed he is,” Thornton said. “He’s helped me with techniques and showed me tips to get over the bar.”
As a captain of the team, Holmes leads by example.
“I like being watched,” Holmes said. “It pushes me further. Watching the new vaulters helps me, too. It kind of reminds me of the basics that are easy to forget about. It’s so complex, sometime the simple stuff can help me out.”
Senior Ryan Enos, a longtime close friend of Holmes’s, has observed his positive attitude first hand.
“He has a good attitude towards the other vaulters in competitions,” Enos said.
Holmes and Enos have a special bond over pole vaulting. Since both recognize and understand the vault is important to the sport; they feed off of each other, improving technique.
That positive attitude and determination contributes to Holmes’s performance, and helped him get to nationals.
“It was a big honor to be chosen,” Uhler said. “They only select the best athletes in the nation to compete.”
Looking back on nationals, Holmes was a bit disappointed in his performance.
“As far as jumping, I did all right,” Holmes said. “I could have done better.”
After high school, Holmes intends to pursue pole vaulting at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, where he has a scholarship for half of his tuition. This spring, Holmes desires to jump five meters, a distance of 16-5.
“If I get my form down, I can clear 16-5 easily,” Holmes said. “I’m currently 84th out of about 8,000 vaulters in the nation. Being in the top 10 percent is awesome, but making [16-5] would probably get me a bigger scholarship to VMI.”
Pole vaulting has made up a big part of Holmes’ life and high school career.
“You have to be insane to [pole vault],” Holmes said. “Just go look at it; just watch it one time.”