Josh deBlock knows what Jake Nemitz is going through.
A year ago, deBlock was dealing with the same nerves, the same doubts, the same pressures.
DeBlock overcame them, and so did Nemitz, who is going to the WIAA Division 1 State Track and Field Meet in the boys pole vault.
“Coming into sectionals, you’ve got guys going up so high,” deBlock said.
DeBlock was one of those high fliers in 2012, as he cleared 14 feet to set a school record on his way to state.
Now, DeBlock is back as an assistant coach with the Reedsburg Area High School track and field team, lending whatever advice he can to Nemitz and the Beavers’ other pole vaulters — including sophomore Tommie Brenner, who also has advanced to state for the Reedsburg girls.
As for Nemitz, deBlock doesn’t doubt for a second that Nemitz has bigger vaults ahead of him.
“I think he could easily go 14 feet,” deBlock said. “He just has to put it all together.”
That’s something Nemitz did at sectionals, as he vaulted 13-3, a personal best.
Between attempts at sectionals, Nemitz and deBlock talked about technique and strategy, and Nemitz has benefitted from deBlock’s experience and knowledge.
“He is very technical,” Reedsburg boys track and field coach Phil Hasler said of deBlock’s coaching methods. “He breaks it down to a science.”
Over the 2013 campaign, Nemitz and deBlock have developed a strong working relationship, even as bad weather this spring set Nemitz’s progress back a bit. From the start of the season, deBlock has been at Nemitz’s side, providing advice.
“The first few weeks, we were stuck inside and did a bunch of indoor drills,” deBlock said. “Jake’s been working hard, and he’s really muscled up the last few weeks.”
From the start, deBlock and his protégé were eyeing a trip to state for Nemitz. While that goal came to fruition, it wasn’t easy for Nemitz.
At sectionals, Nemitz missed twice at 13-0, putting him in an all-or-nothing position when he told the judge to boost the bar up to 13-3.
“That third vault was really scary,” Nemitz said, adding that DeBlock helped him stay calm.
Fueled by adrenaline, Nemitz made 13-3 — and with that vault, he punched his ticket to state.
There was a bit of controversy, however. Sparta’s Rylan Schauf also had missed twice at 13-0, but he decided his next attempt would be 13-6. When he failed on that attempt, Nemitz knew he’d made it to state.
Event officials, however, originally announced Schauf as a state qualifier instead of Nemitz. That prompted Reedsburg coaches to state their case that it was Nemitz would had qualified for state, not Schauf. In the end, the confusion was cleared up and Nemitz learned he had, indeed, qualified.
After he made his 13-3 jump and Schauf missed at 13-6, Nemitz, figuring he was state bound, was physically shaking — but he wasn’t finished yet. Given three tries at 13-6, Nemitz didn’t clear any.
“I felt very nervous,” Nemitz said. “I was so excited I’d made 13-3 … I just got overexcited.”
Nevertheless, Nemitz was not at all disappointed with his performance. And he’s looking forward to ironing out any remaining problems with his technique with deBlock as he prepares for the event of his life.
“I’ll be working on going straight up and working through with my right arm,” Nemitz said.
Getting his steps down is also critical to Nemitz’s success. That was one of Nemitz’s problem areas at sectionals, according to deBlock. So was getting too close to the bar.
Moving his stand back a bit made all the difference as well, as Nemitz dropped the bottom of the pole in a landing spot a couple of inches further back at 13-3 than he had on previous attempts.