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Breakthrough at NSGA Houston

I had one of the more significant sports days in my life today. As you can well understand, I was a little apprehensive about how I would do in the heat and wind of Houston. I knew I had a chance of medaling at the games. As the day started I felt pretty good in warmups. I borrowed a 13′ 160 pole from Larry Bonnett, one of the competitors in my age group — a very nice person, as were all the people there in the competition. The pole felt smooth, the tailwind was high, but not disruptive, and I was very consistent on my steps from the start — 68.5 feet for a six step runup. I didn’t want to no-height, which probably cost me later, so I started at the closest height to 9 feet they had, which was about 8-7 or so (it was difficult to get english measures all day long). I cleared it easily and the day was on. Larry was clearly my closest competitor. Bob Howard from Washington State was injured an had to withdraw. I successively cleared 9-4, 9-10, 10-4 (2 or 3 at that height I think, at which point I knew I had a medal), 10-11 3/4 (which eliminated Larry Bonnett). The judge called me over and asked what height I wanted. After some thought I chose 11-3, which I knew I was capable of and I was a little nervous about 11-6. I switched to Bubba Sparks’ 13-1 165 pole to get a little more spring and slipped my grip on the first vault, which I missed, so I taped the pole and tried again, clearing it pretty easily. I then selected 10-7 and cleared it quite easily. I talked to Bubba and we switched to a 15.5 pole (the other was 15.9 flex, a bit softer). I think if I had some more time on it I would have done fine, but it was stiffer and my form reverted a bit. I nearly cleared 12-0 on my first attempt but finally didn’t make that height. So, I got a gold medal, I have approximately the 4th highest 60 to 64 vault in NSGA history and vaulted 13 or more inches higher than my closest competitor. There are others higher in that age category, but on this day I was the highest at the Senior Games. I nearly accomplished my bucket list goal of vaulting 12 feet and now am confident I can make it. I have many people to thank — Dick Henrie, Brad Moore, Dave Butler, my dad Chuck, Bubba, Larry Bonnett, McKane Lee, Jay Bryan at Anytime Fitness — each contributed to the improvement I showed this year — a foot over my normal top end height.

Here’s the video of me vaulting 11-7:

Here’s Larry and I on the podium at the senior games with our medals (we couldn’t find the third place guy or we would have had him stand with us also).
Phil Milliman and Larry Bonnett on podium at Senior Games

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