SE: Wait Joins Exclusive K-State Track Honor Roll

Kyle Wait

June 8, 2012

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By Mark Janssen

The roll call doesn’t take long.

Doug Lytle, 18-8 3/4, 1984. Kyle Wait, 17-6, 2012.

In K-State history, those are the lone two pole vaulters to have ever cleared 17 feet.

Having cleared 16-4 last year, Wait sailed over 17-feet during the indoor season at 17-0 3/4, and he answered this outdoor campaign with a vault of 17-5 in winning the Big 12 Outdoor. He PR’ed again at the recent NCAA West Regional meet at 17-6 ½ prior to entering today’s vault competition at the NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa.

In winning the conference title, Wait became the first Wildcat to win a Big 12/8 pole vault title since Glenn Engelland won in 1976 at a height of 16-feet.

Not bad for the Wildcat sophomore from Kansas’ Gardner-Edgerton High School, who had a prep best of 15-6.

“Every year since I’ve started vaulting, I’ve tried to improve by a foot,” said Wait. Laughing, he added, “That will continue to be my goal for as long as I can, but I know it will come to an end eventually.”

Not surprised with Wait’s outdoor vaults of 17-plus, is coach Cliff Rovelto.

“It hasn’t been a shock because he had jumped that indoor,” said the K-State coach. “He was in the 15s in high school, so he has improved nicely, which shows you the kind of athlete his is. He’s strong, he’s fast and he’s big. This allows him to get on bigger polls that some guys can’t do at his age.”

Because of that, Rovelto added, “I won’t be surprised when he jumps higher. His take-off has improved, but once he gets off the ground, he still has some things where he can do better. He could be good … very good. He could easily be an 18-plus vaulter, and for any collegian that’s pretty good.”

Like 14 feet did when he was in his infancy as a vaulter, and as 15 feet did as a high school senior, and 16 feet did as a K-State rookie, and 17 feet did early in the season, Wait admits that 18 feet “… does sound really hard, but I think it’s realistic. That’s my goal by the end of the year, and if not, then next year. Every foot is a mind barrier as well as a physical barrier.”

But as Rovelto says, “He has the physical tools of being able to run fast and jump off the ground to be an 18-footer, and maybe 19.”

And, the ability to learn.

“We like for our vaulters to have some background in the vault, but not necessarily a huge background,” said Rovelto. “With women, you like them to have a background in gymnastics, but with most of our men, our better vaulters didn’t have a great high school resume.”

Wait, 6-1, and carries a pole designed for a 200-pounder for 16 sprinting strides prior to take-off 13 feet from the plant box.

Wait says his key is trying to “stay taller” with his running, which he defines as more powerful than fast, and overall has tried to become “bigger, faster and stronger. In my mind, those three areas contribute equally to a vaulters success.”

Wait’s high school sports resume is most unusual to any other Wildcat on campus.

“I played some football, but volleyball was my sport,” said Wait, who was coached by his father, Darrell, in the digging and spiking sport. “I’ve been playing club volleyball since I was 11 or 12. It’s probably my best sport. I looked around at some colleges to play, but I would have had to gone to the west or east coast, and it just didn’t work out.”

With K-State, Wait admits to recruiting the Wildcats as much as the Wildcats recruited him.

Honestly, he says, “I mainly wanted to come here because of my Wildlife and Outdoor Enterprise Management major. I want to go into the outdoor hunting business. I talked to coach about walking on, and it’s worked out.”

Worked out to the point that Wait was awarded a scholarship entering the 2011-12 season, which he defined as “pretty cool.”

Just as his vaulting over 17 feet in consecutive competitions has been pretty cool.

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