Setting the bar: Pole vaulter Phoebe Young locks down another personal best; also selected All-State volleyball
Is there a new height she can’t reach?
Phoebe Young, one of the most prolific pole vaulters to come out of Coal Ridge High School in recent memory (male, female — doesn’t matter), captured two consecutive personal bests over the past week.
The college-bound human highlight reel cleared 11-feet, 2-inches during the Coal Ridge Invitational on May 21. Not to be outdone by herself, Young then hoisted her 5-foot, 6-inch build above an 11-foot, 3-inch bar at the High Country Pole Vault meet at West Grand High School in Kremmling last Tuesday.
“I think that it’s awesome,” said Phoebe’s brother, Hitch Young, a collegiate pole vaulter who just got back into town from George Fox University in Oregon and is now helping to coach the Coal Ridge vaulters.
“I’m really excited because I just got back (in time) to witness it,” he said. “Being able to watch her do that, I can tell that she’s got the potential to just keep going up this year, and I have no doubt that she will.”
The new personal records add to the already vast list of accomplishments Young has attained in her auspicious career.
The 18-year-old Titan signed a letter of intent earlier this year to pole vault for St. Martin’s University in Lacey, Washington. As a dominant multi-sport athlete, Young was also selected recently to compete in the Colorado High School Coaches Association All-State games for volleyball, which were canceled again this year due to COVID-19.
Her high school volleyball career also ended by being named 3A Western Slope League Player of the Year.
When it comes to her success in pole vaulting, however, how in the world does she continue to elevate herself to new heights? Her sophomore year, Young nabbed a second-place 3A state finish via an 11-foot vault, only to skip an entire year of track last spring due to the global pandemic.
“I think not having track last year just really, really motivated me to want to kind of make up for it this year,” she said. “A lot of it is that, just kind of having that confidence of, like, I know what I should have been able to do last year and that playing into what I want to be able to do this year.”
Coach Thad Greene said his star pupil is able to gradually raise the bar bit by bit because she’s mentally tough.
Take, for instance, Young’s sophomore year at the 3A State Championships. Despite hard rain and powerful winds literally at one point knocking down the bar on her second attempt (she had to jump out of the way), Young would come back on her third attempt and record an 11-foot vault. The height locked in a second-place finish in all of the 3A class.
“This year, she has the displeasure of being in the Western Slope, where there are no other female vaulters that are anywhere near her height,” Greene said. “And what that means is, she has to vault by herself at every meet, and most people don’t understand what pressure that is. Nor do they understand that it’s a time constraint to where she has less time to recover between each attempt.”
Young has become so dominant, Greene has lobbied the Colorado High School Activities Association for her to compete in the male pole vaulting division.
“It’s not allowed. Trust me, we’ve already talked to CHSAA about it,” he said. “Because that’s the thing: She’s so competitive that she would win possibly all the boys’ events.”
Even her “nonaccomplishments” are impressive.
“I mean, unfortunately, she has a mark this year of 10-foot, six-inches at a meet,” Greene said.
It was the pole vault competition for the Glenwood Springs Invitational, which was hosted at Coal Ridge.
“People might look at that and go, ’Oh, yeah, see. Sometimes she’s not that good,’“ Greene said. ”That was a 20-knot headwind with pellet hail.”
LIFE OF A DAREDEVIL
There is nothing more contentious and heated than a sibling rivalry, and Hitch and Phoebe Young are no exception to this belief.
“Oh, yeah, 100%,” Hitch agreed. “We’re always making fun of each other and, ‘I’m gonna beat you today,’ and Phoebe’s always telling me that she’s gonna beat all my numbers, which I don’t really doubt. Of course, I don’t ever tell her that; you got to make her work for it.”
But when it comes to who’s the more daring, the bigger brother said he prevails.
“I think it would be me,” Hitch said. “I do kind of reckless, self-endangering kind of stuff like that. But Phoebe is definitely not far behind. When it comes to cliff jumping and stuff, I’m usually doing flips and such like that. But then Phoebe’s right there next to me, jumping higher than most of the rest of the guys are, just because she enjoys doing it.”
Another time, to the chagrin of their mother, Heidi, Hitch recalled the sibling tandem free climbing to the top of a 200-foot cliff and taking pictures.
“The wind’s blowing like crazy, and she’s just kind of looking over the edge of a cliff,” Hitch said.
This seemingly insatiable thirst for adrenaline and giving their poor mother a heart attack derives from their daredevil father, Scott. Greene and Hitch each have stories about Scott Young having an unquenchable penchant for cliff-jumping and diving off bridges in the name of fun.
Maybe this is why the Young siblings make such established pole vaulters — a life that saw its start between seventh and eighth grades for Hitch and Phoebe.
“I understand that it’s not safe; I understand that,” Phoebe Young said. “I’m putting myself at risk doing it. But I think just the thrill of not only competition, but you know, being alone easy in the air. It’s so worth it. … It’s the best.”
Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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