Zach Fisher is expected to get into baseball.
After all, he hits 1,000 – but in the pole vault pit.
Pole, bat, what’s the difference, right?
Fisher, in his third season as a pole vault coach at Warren Hills, and he has two loads this spring – seniors Emma Mele and Nic Read. Just two athletes.
And the two are going to meet the NJSIAA Champions on Saturday (noon) at Frank Jost Field in South Plainfield (NOT South Plainfield HS, by the way).
As we said, batting 1,000.
“They didn’t have a season last year so they instead worked on their overall strength and building speed,” said Fisher, a Phillipsburg graduate who wrestled and pole vault for the Stateliners and crossed 14 feet as an outfielder at Ursinus; he now teaches humanities at Warren Hills. “They had better success this year as a result.”
The Blue Streak pair won entries, the first for both, to meet the championship champions Group 3 at Pennsauken. Mele was an automatic selection as he shared third place at 10ft 6in while Read’s eighth place at 12ft earned him a wild card.
Meeting the champions is exciting enough for any athlete, but in this case there are several factors that make their success even more compelling.
First of all, Mele and Read go back a long way.
“We’ve been friends since the seventh year,” said Mele, a resident of Mansfield Township. “And now we’re a community of three in the pole vault with the two of us plus Coach Fisher. He coaches us, we help each other coach each other. We are all very close. It’s incredible.”
“We met in college,” said Read, who lives in Washington Township. “It was wonderful having him to train with; Emma is very supportive. And Coach Fisher lets us both figure things out on our own and push us at the same time. He trusts me to let me do my own thing, but works with us to find what works to make us do better.
Second, they both plan careers by working to help people and make them better. Mele will be on a five-year program at DeSales University to become a medical assistant and Read is moving to Nazareth College in Rochester, NY for a six-year program to become a physiotherapist.
These types of programs only admit high performing students.
“Regardless of what happens to meet the champions, I am very proud that they both maintain high levels of scholarship and compete at a high level, and that they both advance to the next level,” said Fisher, who also coaches JV soccer and is the varsity wrestling assistant at Warren Hills.
Read is ranked in the top 25 in his class, and while that is fantastic, Mele was even better – No.1, the promotion class Major.
“They use a cumulative grade point average from the first three years of high school plus the first three (of four) grading periods from the last year (to choose the promotion major,” said Mele, who said her favorite classes were the biology and anatomy. to give a graduation speech that focused on community and how we’ve all had to deal with COVID. ”
The pandemic not only wiped out their junior pole vault season – while some sports and even some track events can be played in a backyard, community facility, or park, pole vault does not. surely not gone – but changed schools as well.
“Going virtual (learning) was a struggle,” Mele said. “It was expensive. It was harder to learn and remember.
The pair’s paths to pole vault success, however, were a bit different this season.
Read had to deal with a brutal injury.
“My training this year has been a mess,” he said. “I tore my hamstrings in the fall. I was in physical therapy and stayed active the entire time, but it really hurt, mentally and physically. I hobbled for a good two weeks before I could even resume walking normally. And mentally, I was missing the pole vault.
Read said it took a long time for him to get back to the jump as he thought he could.
“I’m finally happy with the way I’ve been doing since sectional (June 5),” he said. “I am improving with my technique, especially on my races. I achieved the goals I set for myself at the start of the season.
Mele has been in good health, but technique has also been key for her.
“My overall strength and technique is much better than when I was in second year,” she said. “My planting technique has improved considerably. At the start of my second season, I didn’t know pole vault as well and I didn’t know what would make me better. I had a better idea for this season.
Mele said using a heavier stick gave her more height at the bar and more freedom in her jumps.
Fisher, who thanked former Warren Hills jump coach Dan Diveny for his help, said Mele has “made huge strides in strengthening her footwork and sinking her pole into the pit; she did a great job of uplifting.
Read also used a longer stick, giving him more height – and his strength improved as well.
“Nic was pretty light on the weights in sophomore,” said Fisher. “He really gained muscle mass. It really helped him, especially at the top of his vaults.
This was revealed lately in Read’s jumps.
“I had two attempts at 12-6 where I just came close to the bar,” he said. “I progressed my goals more and more; I can always push myself a little further.
Mele said the past two weeks have been a bit hectic to deal with.
“I’m pretty proud of myself this spring, especially since we’ve entered the championship season,” she said. “A lot has happened outside of the pole vault. As if we had had the ball just after the sections and were coming back (from distant Middletown North) in a downpour. It was crazy.”
So what to expect at the Meet of Champions?
Fisher said Mele and Read just had to keep trucking, so to speak.
“They just need to keep doing what they’re doing,” he said. “They’re both right at the next height at the bar.” They must complete these jumps and keep their head straight.
Mele said the “next height” – 11 feet – poses a mental challenge.
“I balked at a lot of jumps when I was 11,” she said. “In practice, I exceed 12 feet. I have to settle this in competition. It would be great to cross 11 feet, especially in the Champions meet, such a great meeting, an incredible meeting to compete in. “
Read said it was more of an effort, although he also has height in mind.
“I have to keep pushing myself, keep working on my jump and get better and better,” he said. “My goal is to jump as high as possible. I would love to set the school record (13-6).
Whatever happens in South Plainfield, Mele and Read will be dating as Blue Streaks.
“By graduation everyone was finishing their high school experience and I realized I had to go back to school at 9 am to practice,” Mele said. “I know (Saturday) is the last time I will put on a Warren Hills uniform, the last time to represent Warren Hills. It will be said. But it’s been an amazing adventure and experience, and there’s no other way I’d rather end up than with our pole vault team.
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Brad Wilson can be reached at [email protected].