July 1, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Track & field: No-fear attitude helps Medina pole vaulter

Kyle Hutchinson has always been a thrill-seeker.

From racing bikes to snowboarding, the Medina junior is always looking for the next adventure to get his blood going.

Medina pole vaulter Kyle Hutchinson has turned heads during the indoor track and field season. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY RON SCHWANE)

That mentality may have caused the occasional broken bone or gash, but it’s what has made him fearless when it comes to the pole vault.

“Since I was a little kid, I’ve always been dare devilish,” Hutchinson said. “I would be riding bikes and try to clear as many trash cans as I could. Anything to get the adrenaline going.”

Hutchinson has parlayed that attitude into success in the pole vault, which has landed him a spot in the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches State Indoor Meet on Saturday at the University of Akron.

His father and coach at Medina, Kevin Hutchinson, a standout vaulter for Northeastern University in Boston, said that fearless approach helped his son get interested in the sport and do it at a high level.

“He’s always been one to take calculated risks,” he said. “That’s the best way I can define it. He’s done a lot of snowboarding and BMX riding, and those qualities were apparent at a young age.

“It’s the type of sport he’s cut out for, so I think he would’ve gravitated to it regardless because he’s strong, fast and fearless.”

Those three attributes have been on display this winter. In seven indoor meets, the 5-foot-11, 155-pound Hutchinson has set a personal record three times. Last weekend, he cleared a career-best 14 feet, 7 inches to win the SPIRE Scholastic Indoor Meet.

Now he looks to take that success to Akron’s Stile Athletics Field House, where he will compete against 16 other athletes for a state title.

“One thing that is important in vaulting is moving up to longer, stiffer poles, and with some kids that can be a process,” Kevin said of his son’s progress. “He seems fearless in that and he’s been moving up on poles. That’s tough to do.”

Hutchinson has the sixth-best jump coming into Saturday, just 9 inches shy of the leading seed mark of Midpark’s Aaron Owens.

A lot of the 17-year-old’s improvement has come thanks to the guidance he’s received this offseason from various local and national-caliber coaches. Olympic gold medalist Tim Mack, Akron coach Dennis Mitchell and Shawn Beamer at the Altitude Headquarters training facility in Bellevue have helped the local, who has also received some tips from retired Medina pole vault coach Tom George.

Add in a 12-week strength and conditioning program with a trainer, a dad that has been through it all as a vaulter and a mom that videotapes his events for him to review, and Hutchinson’s progress is hard to ignore.

“It’s been a very exciting, long journey,” he said. “It’s taken a long time to get to this point, but I owe it to all the people that have helped me reach this level and have motivated me.”

Contact Dan Brown at sports@medina-gazette.com.