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Flack Vaulting to New Heights
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

            Hunter Flack sat on a folding chair watching his Upper Perkiomen teamates

Hunter Flack clears the bar in Upper Perkiomen's victory

over Upper Merion.

compete in the pole vault. When the bar was raised to 10 feet, Flack stood up, peeled off his sweatshirt and grabbed a pole off the pile near the runway leading to the bar.

            On his first attempt, the sophomore sprinted down the ramp, paced his pole in a designated box and hurled his body over the bar at a height of 12 1/2 feet. Eventually, he finished first in the event with a vault of that height last week.

            "Hunter has no fear pushing off from the pole," said Mike Flack, his father and the team's pole vaulting coach. "It's what you need. If there's one sport he might compete at in college, this is it. I don't know if it's his best sport, but he could be pretty dominant at it."

            Tyrese Reid won four events and Chalmers Stroup delivered three first place finishes to help lead the Indians boys track and field team to an 83-67 victory over Upper Merion in the Pioneer Athletic Conference on Wednesday, April 3. The started the season 2-0 for the first time under head coach Dave Dusza.

            "All the coaches are thrilled with the performance," said Dusza, whose team opened its season with an 82-60 victory over Pope John Paul on March 27. "We have more depth than usual.

            Led by Hunter Flack and Stroup, the field events have carried the team in the early going. Both have already qualified for the District One Class 3A Championships, according to the coach.

            Flack, who hit the mark by clearing a personal best of 13 feet during an invitational at Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School on March 29, is looking to improve on his third place finish at last year's conference championship meet.  Mike Flack says his son has a legitimate shot to win the PAC title.

            "There aren't too many vaulters of Hunter's caliber in the conference," said Mike Flack, who competed in the pole vault for Moravian College.  Hunter Flack, who also plays football and basketball, described the event as his best sport. He conceded that his efforts remain a work in progress.

            "I still have a long way to go," said the student, who has been vaulting since seventh grade and takes additional lessons at the Philadelphia Jumps Club in West Conshohoken. "It's such a cool feeling to get over the bar."

            Mike Flack described the event as the hardest in track and field. He said a successful pole vaulter must display the speed of a sprinter, the strength of a shot putter and the technique of a hurdler.  "The hard part is staying directly behind the pole and letting it do the work, extending yourself at the top of the vault and becoming a gymnast," the coach said.

            According to Mike Flack, his son's enthusiasm has rubbed off onto his teammates. Against Upper Merion, Chase Zielgler (11 feet) and Gibson Mattice (10 feet) - who finished second and third, respectively - each set personal bests.

            "A kid with athleticism and drive can excel at the pole vault," Mike Flack said.

            Stroup swept the shot put (38 feet, 4.75 inches), discus (123'11") and javelin (146'3") against the visiting Vikings.  According to Dusza, Stroup's distances have resumed at last year's conclusion.  "Chalmers has a natural talent," the coach said of the Hereford resident, who is  focusing on the javelin this season. "He's got a competitive edge that helps him do well."

            Reid - who has also already qualified for districts - swept the 100 meter dash (11.1 seconds), 200 meter dash (23 seconds), the long jump (22'11") and was part of the victorious 4x400 relay, is already performing in mid-season form, according to Dusza. He said the junior, who came into the season in top physical condition, has an outside chance to qualify for the PIAA Class 3A Championships.

            The Upper Perkiomen girls, who have doubled their numbers over last season, fell to 0-2 on a 95-55 loss to Upper Merion. Abriana Gato won the 100 meter (13.2 seconds) and 200 meter (28.4) dashes. Lilliana Goodrich won the 110 meter high hurdles.

            Dusza described Gato, the diminutive senior, as a natural athlete who is easy to coach.

"Abriana has laid down some really good technique," the coach said. "She's very strong out of the blocks."





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