Slovenski vaults onto national stage

Sport:

Posted: March 24th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Slovenski vaults onto national stage
 
By TOM CHARD, Staff Writer

David Slovenski of Brunswick High had a whirlwind weekend last week.

On Friday he flew to Maryland with his pole vault to compete Saturday in the Nike Indoor Nationals.

Then he headed to New York City to compete in the National Scholastic Indoor Championships on Sunday. In between, he visited his brother, Steve, a junior at Princeton. Slovenski arrived home at 2 a.m. Monday morning and got up a few hours later to attend school.

It was a hectic weekend to be sure, but Slovenski is accustomed to being on the go. If it´s not track practice, then it´s a math meet, a band concert or some other activity associated with being an active 18-year-old high school senior.

Slovenski, one of the top high school pole vaulters in the country, performed well at the national meets. He finished fifth in the Nike meet with his best vault ever -- 16 feet, 6 1/2 inches. Then he took a fourth place in New York with a vault of 15-1 3/4.

"At the Nike meet, I had a vault at 16-10 but hit the bar going down. At the New York meet, I was a little bit sore and tired and didn´t vault as well," said Slovenski.

Over the past year, Slovenski became the first Maine schoolboy to break the 15-foot mark, and also the first to clear 16 feet.

At the Class A state meet at the University of Southern Maine, Slovenski kept bettering his previous marks before finally clearing 16-2 1/2. Then last week, he surpassed that vault.

Slovenski is our Maine Sunday Telegram MVP for indoor track. He will be honored with MVPs from other sports at the annual All-Sports Banquet in June.

"I was very happy with my performance at the Nike Nationals," he said.

"The atmosphere was really good. The crowd was into it and was rhythmically clapping. Five of us made 16-6, and we were all vying for the No. 1 spot."

Every offseason, Slovenski works on improving his strength and athleticism. He trains with his brothers at Bowdoin College, where his father, Peter, is the track coach.

"I don´t do any vaulting in the summer," said Slovenski. "I work on my speed, strength and practice gymnastics. I´m looking to increase my athletic power.

"Once December arrives, I start vaulting and working on my form."

Steve, who held the state pole vault record before David, has helped his brother improve. They work out together along with younger brother Mike, a freshman at Brunswick. When the vaulting starts, it´s usually under the guidance of their father, who was an All-New England and All-Ivy League pole vaulter for Dartmouth.

"My little brother attends the Bowdoin Day Camp in the summer," said Slovenski.

"Steve and I are counselors. When our shifts end, we work out together. We do all the workouts ourselves."

Given the family´s history, it´s no surprise that Slovenski has developed into a top pole vaulter.

Slovenski´s grandfather, Walter, coached track and cross country at Bates for 43 years and is a member of the Maine Running Hall of Fame.

His uncle, Paul, was an NCAA Division III All-American at Bates and still holds the school record in the pole vault.

Slovenski said there has never been any rivalry between him and his older brother. This fall, Slovenski will begin his freshman year at Princeton, joining his brother at the Ivy League school.

"Between my father and Steve, they´ve taught me everything I know about pole vaulting," he said.

They´re passing that knowledge along to Mike.

"He´s about as good as I was my freshman year," David said. "He´s bigger and faster than I was at that age. I´m sure he´ll be up there."

Slovenski was also accepted to Stanford, a top academic school and a track power. In the end, he didn´t want to go cross country. He chose Princeton because of its academics, its proximity to home and the fact his brother goes there and has enjoyed it.

Princeton also has an excellent track program, and Slovenski will receive plenty of competition in his event.

"Steve helped to recruit me. He really wanted me to go there."

Like his brother, Slovenski will major in engineering.

Slovenski began pole vaulting in the sixth grade. The landing mats were almost as high as the bar.

"I also did gymnastics, so I developed spatial awareness and was used to flying through the air," he said.

He calls his steady increase in height "a gradual progression." Looking ahead to the outdoor season, Slovenski feels he can surpass his best height.

"If I get on a good pole and have a little tailwind on a sunny day, I could have a great vault," he said.

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at:
tchard@pressherald.com