(WHTM) – When Hershey’s Justin Rogers transitioned from competitive gymnastics to pole vault as a freshman in high school, he knew he had found his footing. And not just because he had a natural talent for it.
“Nobody’s really crazy enough to do it but me, so I immediately started seeing success because nobody else really wants to grab that giant pole and just run,” laughed Rogers.
Success is an understatement. Rogers admitted that when he started pole vaulting he thought he would be average and compete just for fun.
Three years later, what’s now fun for the senior is clearing 17-foot-1 to become Pennsylvania’s new all-time pole vault record holder. He achieved the feat earlier this month in a double encounter with Susquehanna.
“To think that no one has ever come before me has ever jumped higher is absolutely absurd to think about. I mean, I’m now the PA pole vault standard. It’s crazy to think that my name is written in history like that, but I’m really glad it is,” smiles Rogers.
Rogers’ new record leap breaks the 2018 mark set by Charles Dever by an inch.
“He electrifies the crowd and every game he’s focused, he’s determined and he’s always going for records and he never backs down,” Hershey athletics head coach Kevin Stover of Rogers said.
What’s even more notable is that Rogers broke the state record at the meet after competing in the long jump, 100 meters, and directly after running in the 4×100 meters relay. He knew his legs were tired, so his last energy came from an unlikely source.
“Sour Patch Kids on meetup day is my secret,” Rogers said. “I missed my first attempt at 16 (feet) 1 (inch) then the second one, I don’t know what happened but I had this sudden burst of energy. It must have been the Sour Patch .
“I swear my mind is completely offline. I have no idea what is going on. The moves do it on their own, but as soon as I complete the jump and push off from the top and I’m over a bar, it’s immediately like “oh my god” and I’m back to reality.
Rogers’ state record is the fourth highest jump in the nation so far this year. For the University of Virginia clerk, sometimes he can’t believe his new reality.
“I was recognized by our lunch lady today because she saw me on TV for the (John) Travers award and I was like ‘that’s absolutely nonsense, I’m sure I’m a pole vaulter a “pole vaulter”, laughed Rogers. “To be able to say I’m going to Hershey is a huge blessing. Great school system, great people, great community. To be able to represent well and do my best is absolutely amazing.
Not bad for a Hershey athlete who started pole vaulting from being average and having fun.