SOUTH JORDAN It didn't seem to matter that the wind whipped around him on a blustery day at Alta High. Keith Sasine felt confident he could conquer the state qualifying mark for pole vault at the Alta Invitational.
Sasine, a junior at Bingham, sized up his target and took off down the designated running lane. He planted his pole and cleared the bar. Then Sasine emerged out of the pits, ready to start it all over again.
Once he reached the point where he could not clear the bar any longer, Sasine walked away with a new personal record of 13 feet and had qualified for state. Both accomplishments met goals the junior set for himself in practice earlier last week.
If you think he's satisfied, you don't know Sasine. He's just getting started in terms of what he wants to do before the season ends.
"I really am out looking for a state championship in the pole vault," Sasine said. "That's what I really want."
Sasine is still a foot away from Viewmont pole vaulter Levi Ball the 5A favorite and top pole vaulter at both the Alta Invitational and the Davis Super Meet. But he is gaining ground and doing it quickly.
Bingham coach Jeff Arbogast thinks Sasine has the potential to be one of the best to ever compete for the Miners based on how quickly he has mastered the event.
"He went from nothing to 12 feet in a year," said Arbogast of Sasine, who began seriously competing in the pole vault as a sophomore.
Arbogast describes pole vaulters as a fearless breed. The event, he said, requires an athlete who is part defensive back, part gymnast and part diver and owns a devil-may-care mentality fit for an open wheel race car driver.
If anyone fits the criteria, Sasine would be it. He simply lives for the thrill of going high and vertical.
"It really is an adrenalin rush," Sasine said.
Out of every track and field event, pole vault is probably the one where the element of danger is most present. A bad approach or improper jumping technique can turn things ugly fast. That's one reason why a team with a large collection of pole vaulters such as Bingham employs seasoned ex-pole vaulters on the coaching staff.
"Mistakes in the 100 meters or mistakes in the mile don't cause a lot of problems," Arbogast said. "Mistakes in the pole vault usually mean a broken bone."
Injuries have not afflicted Sasine in pole vaulting. If anything, it is one of his safer sports. He broke a wrist during a junior varsity football game against Hunter last fall and wore a big blue wrap to protect his arm for the next several weeks.
It interfered with Sasine's next sport, wrestling, enough to limit some of his early season mat time. But Sasine eventually made it back to earn a Region 3 title at 140 pounds.
The worst to befall him in pole vaulting is a few dings and scratches. Sasine doesn't worry about what might happen, because he knows it will affect his performance."There's always that danger where you think you're going to hurt yourself," Sasine said. "That's the biggest thing, I think, that holds pole vaulters back from getting an extra foot or extra six inches is that fear. Sometimes it scares me, but most of the time I'm able to tackle it."