Track and field: Trio of Foran Lions stand alone
When you've been around the coaching track for as long as Foran High's Peter Jambor has, you get the chance to see some things that are pretty unusual.
Jambor, a native of Passaic, N.J., who found his way to Connecticut via Southern Connecticut State University, has manned a clipboard as part of the Lions' boys track program since 1983.
He served as an assistant coach to Bob Tait for 10 years before taking over the top spot in 1994.
And, during that time, Jamor has had some very good pole vaulters.
Usually, it was the singular. One accomplished kid at a time.
Now Jambor finds himself with three jumpers, all of whom have cleared 12 feet.
Rarely, if ever, does that happen at one school all at the same time.
Juniors Jared Hubler and Kyle Stuart, along with sophomore Nick Constantini, make up the trio.
Hubler set the school record of 13 feet this year in a dual meet with Guilford on May 2.
He eclipsed the mark of 12-6 set in 2012 by Wesley Sanchez.
Stuart has already cleared 12-6 and Constantini has gone over at 12 feet.
"I was always absolutely ecstatic when I had one kid who could clear 12 feet," Jambor said. "Now, I find myself with three. It's very unusual. You don't see that kind of depth anymore. They push each other, but they help each other as well. It's a very amicable relationship that they have."
Constantini hit the 12-foot mark in the same meet that Hubler went over at 13 feet.
Stuart soared to 12-6 in a four-way meet with Shelton, Wilbur Cross and Hamden.
All three competed in last week's Southern Connecticut Conference sectional.
They'll be in this week's SCC meet and in next week's Class MM state meet.
If they finish in the top six at states, they'll move on to the State Open.
Currently, two jumpers in the state, Joel Barlow's Milan Spisek and Westhill's Mark DeLuca have reached 15 feet.
The best jumper in the SCC is Daniel Hand's Devin McShane at 14-6.
"I always played football in the fall and hockey in the winter," said Hubler. "I needed to try something in the spring and I decided it would be track."
When Hubler met Patrick Fitzgerald in his freshmen year, he was introduced to vaulting.
"I fell in love with it right away," he said. "My form isn't the greatest. Most times, I just try and muscle my way over the bar. Most of it is mental. It was a little windy on the day that I hit my personal best. I just waited until the time felt right and I went for it."
He's the heaviest of the trio at a little over 170 pounds and admits he's a little big to be a vaulter. "I'm really caught in between, because I've wanted to put on weight for football."
Hubler is a receiver and outside linebacker for coach Jeff Bevino's football team.
Stuart hits the scales around 150 pounds and, like Hubler, understands that the event involves a higher percentage of mental acuity.
"I'd say it's 75 mental and 25 physical," said Stuart who likes to ski and sail when he isn't pole vaulting. "Your body knows what to do," he said. "It's really about the steps, the drive, the stretch and the thrust to get up and then over the bar. You have to have momentum on your way there."
His goal is to hit the 14-foot range before he graduates.
Constantini has taken a scientific approach to vaulting. He studies other jumpers.
"There's a kid on Louisiana who's gone over the bar at 19 feet, 4 1/2 inches," he said. "Of course, he's been vaulting since he was six years old."
Constantini’s developed a mini-obsession to the event.
"Most of it is about motivation," he said. "You've got to want to go higher and higher. You can't have any fear. On my best jump, I skimmed the bar on the way up. Once I hit the mat, I looked up and it was still there. At that point, I wanted to give myself a chance to go even higher."
Most of it is about getting the proper amount of flex in the pole. At 138 pounds, he uses a 12-foot-six pole with 140 pounds of flex. Last year, he went lighter and had a pole snap on him.
"It's not a good feeling," he said. "The sound was loud and unnerving. It was happy to land in the pit."
Hubler uses the longest pole among the three, at 14 feet.
"I had a little experience with vaulting when I was in high school," Jambor said. "You need speed and upper body strength and knowing something about gymnastics helps. Once your body is upside down, you need to get yourself in a position for the landing."
Physics comes into play as well.
Whatever it takes, Foran's three vaulters have found a way to clear the bar. No other team in the state can claim to have three jumpers as good as these Lions.