April 7, 2008
Clemson senior Mitch Greeley, one of the nation’s top collegiate pole vaulters, competed over the weekend in the prestigious Texas Relays. Greeley is the school record-holder both indoor and outdoor in the pole vault and is a three-time All-American as well. The Rock Hill, SC native is working harder than ever in his final season with the Clemson track and field program. Read along below as Mitch describes his exciting trip to Austin, TX and the competition he faced at the meet.
Thursday: The poles were shipped out on Monday via freight and Coach Langley and I left around 6:30pm on Thursday from Clemson and drove to Atlanta. We stayed in a hotel room overnight because the plane left from Atlanta at 7am.
Friday: Today was a long day…We left the hotel at 4:45am to go to the airport. I finally arrived in Austin at around 1:30. Austin is a great city, it being my first time visiting, it was much larger than I anticipated. There were many old historical buildings that contrasted with the modern skyscrapers. Being the live music capital of the country, it seemed to be a huge melting pot with many different cultures and sounds. I went to the track to make sure my poles had arrived from UCS. They were made to my specifications and delivered to the meet from the factory in Carson City, Nevada. After inspecting them I packed them back up and headed to the hotel to get some rest. It is always a relief to open the poles after being shipped and see that they are in one piece. Coach Langley went to the track that night to watch his younger brother compete in the javelin while I opted to stay back and start on my homework.
Saturday: The day of the meet. I woke up around 8:30 to get some breakfast in the lobby. There was some academic competition in Austin involving 5000 young children, I think all 5000 were in the lobby of our hotel that morning. As usual, I gave Coach a hard time about kids and told him that he isn’t far off from having a bunch of his own. From there I laid around in the room and caught up on some homework I brought with me. Coach and I loaded up the poles on the rental car around noon and headed to the meet. It is always interesting to see how the hotel management stores our poles until we pick them up, this time it involved crawling through the laundry room window on the lower level.
Wow, what a meet. It was a sold out crowd of 20,000+ people. It was nice to see this kind of turn out and support for track and field. I began warming up around 1:30 and took a total of four jumps before the meet. I felt pretty good during warm-ups but not my best. I thought `once the meets gets underway I will be ready to go.’ I opened at 5.20m or (17’1″) and cleared on my second attempt. The next bar was 5.35m (17’6.5″) and I cleared on the first attempt. I was feeling pretty confident going into 5.45m (17’10.5″) and had huge height over the bar but came down on the bar after being hit with a consistent head wind down the runway. The second attempt was cleared rather easily. I was focused on 5.55m (18’2″) because I knew that I was more than capable of clearing. I was, however, unsuccessful on all three attempts. There was plenty of height in the jumps just the inconsistency of my run put me at different peak spots in the air making it difficult to judge the standard placement. I was, however, pleased with what I jumped considering it was my first meet outdoors and first time running from a full approach outdoors. It is a long season and I look to build from this point.
After the meet, Coach and I went for some authentic Mexican food at a place that is about the size of a hotel room. Usually the biggest dumps serve the best food and this place was no different. Then after our meal, we drove to downtown Austin to take in the sights of the city. Driving in traffic along I-35, Coach Langley noticed a truck not moving in the left lane and looked over to see the driver laid back in his seat slightly hunched over. He stopped our car, in traffic, ran to the man’s car, fearing what he may find, tapped on the glass, the guy wakes up, speeds off and Coach Langley is left standing there, on a major interstate, with people honking at him. One of the classic moments that make a trip complete. As we toured town, I could definitely tell that Austin is a diverse city with a style all its own. We snapped a few “tourist” photos and headed back to the hotel in preparation for an early morning.
Sunday: Another 4:45am wake up call was rough. As I sat in the Houston airport I was still thinking about the meet and how disappointed I was to lose, especially after finding out the winner received a nice Texas Relays gold watch. Well, I don’t plan on losing any meets after this one and I can get my gold watch at Penn Relays. We made it back to Clemson around 3:30pm. The trip was great. What a great opportunity for Coach Langley and I to be a part of. I would just like to thank Coach Pollock for allowing us to go as well as IPTAY members for their support. I hope this is a good preview of things to come and GO TIGERS!
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