Raising the bar

North Carroll pole vaulter Erik Adami is fearless as he catapults to new heights, sets a record and wins the county championship

Track and Field

May 20, 2007|By BILL FREE | BILL FREE,SUN REPORTER

While North Carroll senior Erik Adami flew through the air with a school-record pole vault of 14 feet to win the Carroll County championship recently, his parents watched nervously from below in fear that something would go wrong.

It's not unusual that parents would have such concerns. Except in this case, Dad is also the assistant coach. Henry Adami coaches his son in the pole vault and other field events.

"My dad doesn't like watching me," Erik Adami said. "He gets nervous sometimes about me getting hurt and that I'm not going to clear it [bar]. They get nervous."

Meanwhile, Adami is loving every minute of competing.

"It's nice and relaxing up there," the defending pole vault state champion said. "It's like everything stops."

When asked if an athlete had to be fearless to be an outstanding pole vaulter, Adami said casually, "That helps."

Adami said the pole vault is his favorite event because of "the thrill" it provides, and he has made a vow to break the county record of 14 feet, 6 inches.

"I've got a new 14-foot, 6-inch pole, and I'm practicing a lot harder and getting stronger," said Adami, who also plays soccer and was a member of the Panthers team that made it to the state Class 3A state championship game last fall. "That's the one thing I wanted to do is to break the pole vault record. You can say I really want it badly."

Time is running out, however.

After leading North Carroll to its first-ever county track and field championship with an outstanding all-around performance (taking firsts in the pole vault, high jump and discus and third in shot put), Adami has just the regionals and the state competition remaining in a career that has attracted casual track and field fans at North Carroll to watch him compete.

"They think it's crazy that I'm jumping like 14 feet," he said. "They just want to see me do it, so they come to the track meets."

North Carroll senior shot putter Ben Burden, a longtime friend of Adami's, said, "Our whole entire school knows how good he is, and they all come out to watch him. He has a lot of friends in school, and they all come out and do a lot of cheering."

It's an unusual sight at a school that had mostly been known for wrestling over the years. Among those most surprised is Adami.

"My dad just told me in the ninth grade to try pole vaulting one time. It was fun, and I liked to practice," Adami said.

He said a major change has come over the track and field program because of the new-found success for the team and himself.

"The team is actually taking track seriously," said Adami, whose track and field career began in the fourth grade. "It used to not be very popular. But a lot more kids are trying out. More are dedicated to the sport."

He called the pole vault and shot put the hardest events for him to master, especially the shot put because "I'm one of the smallest guys [5 feet 11, 175 pounds] out there."

Burden is most amazed at the way Adami rushes through four field events in a short amount of time at a championship meet.

"Just the fact when he runs around and does all those events and throws three discuses in a row and gets 133 [feet], it's crazy," Burden said. "You have to know a lot about the sport to be able to get into a groove like that."

Adami won the county high jump competition with a leap of 6-2 and took the discus throw with a mark of 133-7 1/4 .

"Not only do you have to be a good athlete, you have to be able to manage your time at the meets," North Carroll track coach Jim MacDonald said. "He is literally running between events during a meet. The meet might last four or five hours but usually he has two events going on at the same time."

MacDonald said that forces Adami to go back and forth across the stadium to compete in the simultaneous events.

"Usually he's doing the shot and the high jump, which are at opposite ends of the stadium," MacDonald said. "And then he does pole vault and discus, and sometimes the discus is way outside the stadium. So he keeps moving around the place. He's never sitting down."

MacDonald called Adami's performance at the county meet "his greatest, not because of his individual accomplishments but because of what it meant to the team. Anytime anybody can pole vault 14 feet is something else. To see an athlete that high in the air is always impressive to me."

bfree7066@hotmail.com

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