After breaking the Saline High School record, Saline junior pole vaulter Eric Harris has loftier goals in mind.
He wants to be state champion.
Harris is moving on to the state finals after setting the school record of 15-03.5 while winning the regional championship. The MHSAA Division 1 track and field meet is held Saturday at East Kentwood High School.
“At the beginning of my track season, my goal for this year was 15 feet and pretty quickly I started realizing I was going to jump higher than that this year,” Harris said. “Luckily I got 15-03.5 at the regional meet and now my goals have kind of changed.”
Entering this year, the record was 15 feet, set by Steve Bastien in 2012.
Harris said he is incredibly proud to be the school record holder and he now wants to build on his success.
“It means a lot to me because it has been one of my goals from the day I started pole vaulting and I’m honored to be able to say I’m the school record holder now,” Harris said
Harris said his record breaking jump was a cultivation of lots of hard work and attention to detail.
“Pretty much every practice we go back to long runs and a lot of technique, watching videos, and just making sure I am as healthy as I can be so I can go hard everyday,” Harris said.
The mental aspects of pole vaulting are incredibly important and learning the skills to have your mind right during a jump is crucial, Harris said.
“One of my biggest things this year was just trying to control my adrenaline and just keep myself calm before my jumps,” Harris said. “At the same time you’ve got to have enough adrenaline to be as amped up and as ready as you can to take the jump. Last year, that was one of my biggest struggles, just trying to keep my adrenaline at a good spot. This year, now that I’ve been able to learn it I’ve been able to just take advantage of the raw talent I kind of started with and just make something of it.”
Harris said that he has learned having close relationships with your teammates and coaches is an incredibly important part of improving.
“One of the big things is just getting closer with teammates and coaches and just bonding with everyone on the whole team,” Harris said.
Saline pole vaulting coach Matt Leaders said future track athletes should take note of how Harris is always open to changes and new ideas.
“When I came here Eric was already a pretty decent vaulter,” Leaders said. “He had really good mechanics, he did things really well, but what really took him over was just being open to changing a couple of things and really putting the work in, and that is what made a big difference for him.”
Harris said none of this would have been possible without all the help he has received from his coaches.
“My original coach, Adam, he got me to 14 feet and helped me with a lot of the basic things like just getting a good run, a good plant and just things like that,” Harris said. “Then luckily I was able to get Matt Leaders as my coach this year and he has done a lot to improve my form and make me able to jump even higher.”
Harris has high expectations for the state finals and has set his bar even higher than his record breaking jump at regionals.
“My goal right now is to come in first place,” Harris said. “I am hoping to jump about 16 feet. That would be the biggest goal.”