About two months before finding the podium in four events at the state track and field championships in Tacoma, W.F. West’s Seth Hoff picked up a pole vault stick for the first time and gave it a try.
On April 1, with aspirations of school records and state titles in his more signature events like javelin and long jump, Hoff tried his hand at pole vault and practiced with the group for the first time.
Less than two months later, on May 28 — after he won a district title with a personal-best vault of 12 feet, 6 inches — Hoff repeated the feat at state and took home seventh in the state in a brand new event.
When he looked back on his track career, Hoff said he would remember his pole vault experience the most.
“I got to experience those people, and those people were probably one of my favorite things,” Hoff said. “We also had coach (Don) Rinta, he’s an amazing guy and is just a purehearted man who truly does love us.”
For a sport where, often you find a niche and stick to that niche, Hoff wanted to give something new a try as his high school career dwindled.
A longtime jumper, javelin thrower and occasional relay racer, he put his athleticism to the rest in early April with some seriously talented and dedicated vaulters, and it paid off.
“You have no idea what your potential is if you don’t try it at all,” Hoff said.
While bursting onto the pole vaulting scene, Hoff kept plugging at his more regular events as well, taking home a state title in the javelin with a personal-best throw in Tacoma of 184 feet, 2 inches, good for third in school history and four feet off the program record.
Though he wanted the school record badly, Hoff was happy and content with his performance, and attributed the late-season personal-best to a competitor of his who showed him what he had been doing wrong for most of the season. Watching Hockinson’s Cody Wheeler during warmups and working with him during meets, Hoff focused on his block, and it paid dividends.