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The Weirich family of athletes

Published: Monday, May 2 2011 10:00 a.m. MDT

Perhaps his courage with heights saved his life in some way. During a day off while serving an LDS Church mission in Australia, he slipped and fell off a 100-meter cliff (some 328 feet — or more than three football fields high) — at the Grand Canyon lookout in Moreton National Park. Trees slowed his descent and tore off almost all his clothes. He was lost for 20 hours and presumed dead. Miraculously, after spending a night in freezing conditions, he was found alive and made a full recovery.

"His parents called me before they found him, and they were devastated," says Robison. "Matt has never liked to talk about it."

Brian, a senior at BYU, began his track career as a vaulter in middle school, but quit in the eighth-grade because of his little brother. "Victor was beating me by a foot and he wasn't even competing or practicing every day," says Brian. He became a middle-distance runner instead, which proved to be a good move. In March, Brian ran the first leg of BYU's national championship distance medley relay team in the NCAA indoor championships. He has run 1:49.9 for 800 meters and an altitude adjusted time of 3:42 for 1,500 meters. He's easy to spot on the track. At 6-foot-2, 185 pounds, he's an SUV running against Honda Civics on the track.

"It's him and a bunch of 140 pounders," says Eyestone. "He's a bruiser out there."

Victor, a sophomore, can claim the family record in the pole vault, with a best mark of 18 feet, 0 1/2 inches. While Brian was winning a national championship at the NCAA meet, Victor was placing fifth in the pole vault. Like Matt, he was a terrific high school vaulter, clearing 16-7 3/4.

"Victor was like Matt," says Robison. "He was a very good vaulter."

Josh Weirich, a freshman who returned last year from a mission, has focused on the decathlon at BYU, like Chris. It certainly suits his versatility. Besides clearing 15 feet, 9 inches in the pole vault in high school, he also has jumped 6-8 in the high jump and covered the 100-meter high hurdles in 14.99.

"Josh is going to be very good," says Robison. "He's still learning the other events and getting his missionary legs back."

Meanwhile, the next brother in the Weirich lineup is Kevin, another 15-foot pole vaulter who is serving a mission. His dad believes he will wind up at BYU (Darren, the youngest of the boys and a 13-foot vaulter, joined the Navy).

The Weirichs' farm team will be stocking the BYU track roster for years to come.

Email: drob@desnews.com

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