Busy Eshoo eschews easy way through life Track and field: Active Atholton senior won a state pole-vaulting title last spring. Now he wants a 14-1 jump to make nationals.

April 10, 1997|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Mike Eshoo is a 17-year-old Atholton High senior who wears many different uniforms and lives life to the hilt.

Lifeguard at the Columbia Swim Center, Ellicott City volunteer fireman, his school's student-government president, former JROTC battalion commander, Thunder Hill neighborhood swim team coach, would-be trauma surgeon who has performed one-day internships at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center, and state champion, both indoors and outdoors, in the pole vault -- the 6-foot, 155-pound Eshoo does it all.

"I'm probably not as dedicated to pole vaulting as I might like to be, because I'm involved in so many things, but I've been successful not giving 100 percent," Eshoo said.

He won the Class 3A state outdoor title last spring at 13-feet, 6-inches in a competitive field with four jumpers topping 13 feet.

"I was surprised. I didn't expect it. I wasn't favored. But I picked the right meet for everything that I'd worked on to come together," Eshoo said. He had been second in the county to Pat Tvarkunas, who won the Class 2A state title at 14 feet.

Tvarkunas graduated, so this spring, Eshoo reigns as the likely king of the county outdoor pole vault, unless teammate Alex Buell or Class 3A Centennial's Dave Johnson can upend him.

Johnson beat Eshoo at a tri-meet last week, when Eshoo had trouble with the windy conditions and no-heighted. Atholton has dropped to Class 2A this season, so Eshoo won't have to worry about Johnson at states.

"Alex will be my top competition there, and he is on the verge of a breakthrough," Eshoo said. "He's been jumping about 12-6 for two years."

Eshoo continues a tradition of top pole vaulters at Atholton, with three alumni now vaulting for NCAA Division I colleges -- Omar El Sawi (West Virginia), Eddie Lebard (LSU) and Josh Potocko (Naval Academy). Lebard holds the Atholton record of 14-4, a level Eshoo would like to top. He'd also like to qualify for nationals, which requires a 14-1.

"I remember Mike's freshman year, when he could barely clear 7 feet," said Atholton coach Chris Rhode. "He could be even better, but some weeks, it's an accomplishment to get him to practice three times a week. He still jumps well and puts it together on meet days. He has a great plant. He carries the heaviest and longest pole in the state and grips higher than anyone."

Rhode was a state champion pole vaulter at Glenelg and holds the seventh-highest decathlon score at Maryland. He still works out and jumps with his students.

"The coach makes our program successful," Eshoo said. "He not only has a master's degree in sports psychology, but he's young and active enough so that he shows you what to do -- not just tells you. And that's highly motivational."

Pole vaulting requires a lot of what Eshoo calls "dull and tedious drills." And it requires staying an hour later at practice than everyone else.

"He has been dedicated to stay with it for four years," Rhode said.

Because of the risk involved, the sport also requires what Eshoo calls an "aggressive personality."

He won his state indoor title at 12-6, although his indoor best is 13-3. He also won county and region indoor titles. "The competition was not as stiff indoors," Eshoo said.

Eshoo also thinks his grade-point average could be higher than 3.07 if he were not involved in so many activities. His 1,300 Scholastic Assessment Test score attests to that. For now, he's sacrificing some areas to enjoy his overflowing plate.

"When I get to college, I'll have to work a lot harder at studies, so I'm enjoying these other things while I can," he said.

He's won a $9,000-a-year JROTC scholarship to Penn State, where he hopes to study chemical or biomedical engineering, heading eventually to performing trauma surgery or being involved with emergency medicine.

Pub Date: 4/10/97

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