Independent/Matt Dixon, file

Grand Island’s Steven Cahoy competes in the Class A pole vault during the state track and field championship May 19 at Burke High School in Omaha. Cahoy won the event at 15-8. Cahoy recently competed in the Junior Olympics national meet in Baltimore, where he finished third.

 

 

At this time last year, Steven Cahoy didn’t know what his potential was in the pole vault.

One year later, he’s finding out. And he’s doing it on the national level.

Seven months after deciding to give the pole vault a try, the Grand Island Senior High senior finished third in the Young Men’s (17-18) competition by clearing 15 feet, 11 inches in the U.S.A. Track and Field National Junior Olympics July 29 in Baltimore.

“It was huge since this was my first year of doing (the pole vault),” Cahoy said. “(The meet) was a great experience.”

Cahoy, the son of former Nebraska and Olympic gymnast Phil Cahoy, made the decision to give the pole vault a try in January after talking to his family and GISH pole vault coach Geoff Cyboron.

“I wasn’t for sure if I wanted to try it or not but Cyboron talked to my mom about it,” Cahoy said. “My family wanted me to try it and convinced me to try it. I’m glad I did.”

Cahoy made a name of himself in his first year. He set the GISH school record in his first-ever meet by clearing 15-1 at the Kearney High Indoor Meet March 23. Later, he went 16-0 at the Heartland Athletic Conference Meet. The mark is tied for the fifth best vault in Nebraska track and field history. He finished his junior season by winning the all-class gold medal at 15-8 to help the Islander boys take third in Class A at the state track and field meet.

Cahoy continued to go to meets during the summer. He won the USATF Nebraska Junior Olympics in Omaha by clearing 15-0. That qualified him to the USATF Region VIII Olympic track and field championships in Oshkosh, Wis.

But Cahoy didn’t have the kind of day he wanted. He finished fifth after going 14-0. But that was enough to qualify to the national meet in Baltimore.

“That was a really bad day for me,” Cahoy said. “But to still qualify to the national meet was really a relief.”

Cyboron said Cahoy did not have the best day.

“We probably weren’t as prepared at that time. We drove up to Oshkosh and he sat in the car for about 14 hours,” Cyboron said. “I think that affected him a bit. He never looked like he had his motor in him and looked a little slow.”

He fared a lot better at the national meet in Baltimore. Cahoy and two other competitors finished at 15-11, but he had more misses at the height than the other two. That earned him the third-place finish.

“It was great to see other people vaulting from different states and it gave me a chance to see how well I need to become,” Cahoy said. “It will help me for next year.”

Cyboron said he was pretty confident Cahoy was going to do well at nationals and got great experience in competing in the meet.

“I think he went down there with a purpose and he is definitely showing his growth as an athlete over the past year,” Cyboron said. “I mean it’s not every day a kid picks up a pole for the first time in January and be a contender at the national meet. He’s put in so much time into pole vault this summer that I’m not really surprised he did so well.

“It was good for him to compete at that level. No doubt, this experience will help him for his senior year and I think the sky is the limit for him. I’m glad he got the opportunity to compete in those meets.”

Cahoy said he’s amazed by how well he’s done in the pole vault with the short time of doing it. He added that his success has to do with gymnastics background, which started when he was 3 years old.

“It’s amazing how quickly I picked it up and how well I did,” Cahoy said. “I have been doing gymnastics ever since I was 3 so I have to give credit to that. I probably would be a lot better if I tried the pole vault sooner.”

But before Cahoy gets ready for the track and field season, he wants to focus on football this fall. The Islanders started two-a-day practices Monday and will open the season with Lincoln Northeast Aug. 24 in Grand Island.

“It’s been going well so far,” Cahoy said. “I think we have a chance to be better than people think we are going to be.”