Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

PREP TRACK & FIELD ; Capital Pole Vaulter Preps for College Career, Eyes Olympics

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

PREP TRACK & FIELD ; Capital Pole Vaulter Preps for College Career, Eyes Olympics

Article excerpt

From the Mountain State to Canada and soon Rocky Top, Capital senior pole vaulter Tristan Slater finds success and greater heights across North America. Slater, born in North Bay, Ontario, Canada, before moving to Charleston, is the three-time defending Class AAA pole vault state champion and placed fourth for Team Canada at the Pan American Junior Championships in Edmonton, Alberta. On Nov. 12, Slater signed his letter of intent to vault for the University of Tennessee.

"It's a very good feeling and a great sense of relief that I know that I'm accepted and I'll be going to Tennessee next fall, Slater said. "It is one of the top schools in the United States for pole vaulting and they have a very rich history.

"For me, it just came down to what I really loved and I loved Tennessee and it feels like home to me.

In a Nov. 30 news release, Tennessee's Beth Alford-Sullivan, director of track and field and cross country, said "Tristan joins the UT pole vaulting legacy ranked as the No. 1 high school pole vaulter. We are thrilled for him to continue the success within this event area in our program. Tristan is a true scholar of the event, a great student and all-around athlete. We are excited to see all that he brings to the table.

Slater's connection to Knoxville, the home of the Volunteers, lies within his monthly trips to the town to visit his pole vault coach Tim Mack, the 2004 Olympic gold medalist.

In addition to Mack, Slater takes instruction from coaches at Capital and his AAU club, the Capital City Striders, as well as his mother Tracy Bailey.

"I think anyone will tell you coaching your own child - there's a fine line that you walk, the athlete and the parent, Bailey said. "We've had a few heated moments and you've just got to walk that line just like any coach, but at the end of the day he's still getting in my car and coming home with me, so it's tricky, but it's fun and we've really enjoyed it.

Bailey has supported her son since he began vaulting at age 11, but truly recognized his potential when Slater started visiting Mack.

"I think in ninth grade, his freshman year, when we started working with Tim, it was just a completely different dynamic and he just absolutely rocketed, Bailey said. …

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