Breaking records is not uncommon for sophomore Hunter Drops.
Drops has participated in sports all of his life and has had a niche for competing ever since he could remember.
“My parents coached for my brother [Jake Drops] who is a year older than me, so I always just played with them while they coached soccer or baseball,” Drops said.
Since fifth grade, Drops has been heavily involved in track and field. Pole vault, however, became his focus in seventh grade.
“Track started for me in fifth grade, and my friends also did it,” Drops said. “I started pole vault half-way through my seventh grade year and I was formerly a baseball player, but I stopped to do track year-round.”
Constantly improving heights and records, Drops holds the records for both freshman and sophomore pole vault and javelin. The freshman record for pole vault was previously 13’6 by Trevor Woods, but Drops achieved 14 feet. Drops holds the sophomore record for pole vault with 14’9. Dalton Milburn, a 2012 graduate and state champion discus thrower, previously held the freshman record of 159 feet in the javelin, but Drops set a new record with 165 feet. Drops also broke the previous sophomore discus record of 175 feet, with a throw of 185 feet this season.
Drops said he hopes to be number one on the all-time lists for both pole vault and javelin.
“I’m now fourth on the all-time list for jav, and fifth on the all-time list for pole vault,” Drops said. “But my goal is to be number one on both.”
Drops said he does not follow a specific inspirational quote or person, rather only the words and advice of Steve Puckett, his pole vault coach.
“I do whatever Puckett tells me to do and I always shoot for the record,” Drops said. “I grip and rip it.”
Puckett has helped coach Drops over the years to perform to the best of his abilities.
“I’ve known him since middle school and he’s always been helping me,” Drops said. “He knew I had potential in seventh grade and he’s been working with me a lot since then.”
Puckett said Drops has special qualities that make him a commendable athlete.
“He has great coordination and good body strength,” Puckett said. “He’s learned to pole vault with lots of repetition.”
Along with Drops’ work-ethic, Puckett also said Drops has greatly improved in the past year due to physical changes.
“He’s improved a lot in the last year; his body is a lot bigger and stronger,” Puckett said.
Sophomore Jesse Golder, who is also on the track and field team, said Drops brings a competitive edge to pole vaulting.
“It’s really fun with Hunter and he makes it very competitive so we all get better as a team,” Golder said
Golder, who has known Drops since last year when he first started track, said having Drops as a teammate helps him compete as an athlete.
“He has helped me a lot and he has made me strive to be as good as he is,” Golder said.
Drops said he believes more people could do pole vaulting.
“Anyone can be a vaulter,” Drops said “We have a great coaching staff in vaulting and track in general. You just have to get out there and do it.”
Along with vaulting and throwing, Drops also found himself competing in the jumps this season. At the 106th annual Coos County track meet, Drops received the “Outstanding Jumper” award.
“I was not aware that I had won the award,” Drops said. “I was underneath the stands and my mom had to call me to come out.”
At the Far West League district track meet in Siuslaw, Drops took first in the pole vault and second in the javelin, earning him a chance to compete in both events at state.
“I was confident that if I knew what I was able to do and just execute what I’ve been able to do the entire season, I’d be going to state,” Drops said.
Drops competed at the state track meet at Hayward field and took home a fourth place medal in pole vault, and a sixth place medal in the javelin.
“I competed well, I could’ve done better but I have two more years so that’s good.” Drops said.
Although successful in both his freshman and sophomore years of track and field, Drops succumbed to an injured ankle at the beginning of the championship season while competing in triple jump.
“I tried it in practice and I was actually pretty good at it, and at the Prefontaine track meet, I went out on my first jump and landed weird on my left ankle,” Drops said. “I was out for about two weeks after that.”
Though there is always a risk of injury during each vault, Drops said the rush of competing is the best part of vaulting.
“The adrenaline is the best. It takes a lot to vault and especially when you start to go higher, a lot more can go wrong,” Drops said. “As soon as they call men’s varsity pole vault, I get up and I am ready to go.”