By Pete Byrne (email@example.com)
7:21 PM EDT, June 2, 2011
In the words of Kyle Johnston's coach, the young pole vaulter has all the tools to be a champion.
"He's a taller vaulter, he's relatively quick, he's getting quicker,” he said. “He's got great genetics!"
I'll let you in on the joke. Kyle's coach -- former Indiana state champion pole vaulter Robb Johnston -- is also his dad.
"I was pretty much just raised around it," Kyle said.
"Soon as he came out, I had a pole vaulting pole ready for him. Put it in his hands," Robb said. "We've got a picture of it in the bassinet."
And it goes deeper than that. Kyle's grandfather was a pole vaulter -- a state champion in high school, and a national champion at Purdue. His sons -- Kyle's dad and Kyle's uncle -- were both pole vaulters, his uncle a former Big Ten champ. And both of Kyle's sisters pole vaulted at Penn.
"He was destined to be a pole vaulter,” Robb said. “There was no option. You're born a Johnston, you're born a vaulter. So he's just following through with what he was meant to do."
What he's meant to do is win a state title. His grandpa did it. His dad did it. So no pressure, right?
"It's always above my head that I kind of have to do it,” Kyle said. “Third generation. So, there's always that need to go get it."
Kyle feels good about his chances. He's already got the fifth-best jump in the state this season, breaking the Northern Indiana Conference record in the process -- a record that had stood for 35 years. But he knows what the family expectations are.
"I haven't been satisfied at all,” he said. “I've been wanting more and more."
But as his dad -- err, coach -- watches, he can't help but be proud already.
"To see your own son go up in the air and be successful, it's one of those priceless (things),” Robb said. “Pole vaulting pole: $703. Trip to state: $250. Son vaulting: Priceless."
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