Danville's Frye finds niche as pole vaulter

April 04, 2004|MIKE MARSEE

Four years ago, Djuan Frye probably would have laughed at the idea that he could be a pole vaulter. But now the Danville senior is deadly serious about the event that has become his specialty.

He won a regional championship in the vault last season, and he started this season by winning a state indoor championship last month.

So far, all is going well for Frye, who has finally found his niche as he leaps into the final season of an eight-year run in track and field.

"It's my last year, and I really want to meet my standards of doing the best," Frye said. "For eight years I've run track, and I want to go out on top."


"It's been my goal for a while to go to state and have an experience."

Off to a good start at Mason-Dixon Games

He started his season on the right foot, winning the Class A championship at last month's Mason-Dixon Games, the unofficial state indoor championships.

"I was surprised because I hadn't touched a pole since state (last year)," he said. "It was pretty exciting, especially not going down there with a pole."

Frye won with a borrowed pole after the pole he was supposed to use went missing. He went to the meet in Louisville with no pole but in hopes of finding help from a fellow competitor.

"I was hesitant to ask somebody else to use a pole," he said. "I was just going to use any pole that was close to (my weight)."

That Frye was able to borrow an appropriate pole is a testament to the special camaraderie that bonds most vaulters. It's a slow, methodical event that allows plenty of time for fraternization among the competitors.

"Being down at the pole vault pit, you build a relationship with the people around you, and they encourage you to do better," Frye said. "A lot of people I've met during track season in pole vaulting, we've hung out on weekends sometimes."

Got into pole vault by accident

Frye gravitated to the pole vault pit quite by accident in his freshman year, when he and some teammates were clowning around with Cassie Trueblood, the team's only vaulter at the time.

"It started out as a joke, really," he said. "Cassie had started to do it, and we were always joking around when we were down there, and I started jumping over it."

That's when then-Danville coach Tim Godbey got interested.

"He said, 'Why don't you try it in a meet?'" Frye said.

But Frye said he wasn't crazy about the idea.

"I really didn't want to do it, because I was not sure if I could," he said.

Still, he started vaulting in junior varsity competitions, then moved up to the varsity level.

Frye cleared 8-6 consistently in his first two years, but things finally started to come together for him last year. He moved up to 9 feet at the start of the season, and it wasn't long before he was at 10-6.

"It was real quick," he said.

He won regional championship

He won his Class A regional championship by clearing 11 feet, but he was only able to clear 10 feet a week later at the state meet, where he tied for eighth.

"I still haven't mastered it completely," he said. "I still have a little bit to work on. Hopefully I can improve enough to beat my best from last year.

"I think I've done a lot in the past four years, but there's a lot more I probably could do, too."

But it won't be the only thing Frye is working on. He'll also compete in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles and in the 1,600 relay, giving him a full workload at practices and meets.

"I've actually got more than I had last year," he said.

He'll try to help compile points for a Danville boys team that has more than twice as many athletes this year as last. And he has an eye out toward the future of Danville pole vaulting, even though he won't be part of it.

"I'd like to have somebody in my spot," he said. "That's one of the things I want to do before I go."

But he'd also like to have a moment for himself before the final curtain falls. And he'd like that moment to be on the medals stand at the state meet two months from now.

"I was kind of upset last year, and I want to try to have a great season," he said. "I just want to have a chance to stand on the podium for once."

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