New Xpogo record may be set on Saturday at Plum High School
Drew Philip McQuiston received his first pogo stick as a gift more than a decade ago, and soon he was skilled enough to execute trick moves.
He eventually began performing at school assemblies and other gatherings.
“I realized I was pretty good at it,” said McQuiston, 20, a Chester County resident and student at the University of Delaware.
“I always thought it was pretty fun.” Fast forward to today, and McQuiston's pogo improvement has taken him to the cusp of a world record. On Saturday at 11 a.m., he will be at Plum High School attempting to set a new record for the fastest mile on a pogo stick.
“I can't wait for this,” McQuiston said. “I am very excited and confident. I saw a guy with all of these world records, and I thought it would be really cool to be the best in the world at something.”
Why make the trek across Pennsylvania to attempt the record? The headquarters of Extreme Pogo, or Xpogo, the organization that governs all of the world records, is located in Wilkinsburg.
“I was talking to the CEO, Nick Ryan, and he told me that if I did it near their headquarters, someone would come out and watch me do it and adjudicate the record for free. I would have to pay $500 if I would do it on my own.”
Why Plum High School?
McQuiston reached out to several schools in the area, and Plum was the first and only school to show interest in hosting the attempt to set a record recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records.
“Plum people, including (athletic director) Bob Alpino, have been enthusiastic and are looking forward to seeing me break the record,” he said. “I am very thankful it worked out.”
Alpino said the request was easy to grant.
“I have received several requests to use the high school facilities, but this, by far, was the most unique,” he said. ”I look forward to witnessing his attempt to break a world record. It should be fun and exciting.”
Ryan equally is excited to have McQuiston come to the area to break the record.
“We always want to support people who are trying to push the sport forward,” said Ryan, who helped found the Xpogo organization with others while studying at Carnegie Mellon University about seven years ago.
“This has ballooned into a whole action sports culture. People all over the world in dozens of countries are into Extreme Pogo.”
There are 11 recognized Xpogo world records, including ones for highest jump (11 feet, ½ inch), most cars jumped in a row (two), most consecutive jumps (88,047) and highest backflip (9 feet, 3 inches).
The record for the fastest mile stands at 9 minutes, 16 seconds.
McQuiston, a cross country and track and field runner in high school, has been training for his record attempt since January. He said he has improved his cardio and back strength, two elements key to successfully reaching his goal.
“I would occasionally take my pogo stick on a training run and do a mile down a trail,” he said. “It's funny because I get mixed reactions from people who I encounter. Some people I bounce past are like, ‘That is cool.' Others, I think, don't know what to think, and they just ignore me.”
During his attempt, all forward progress must be made on the pogo stick. If he falls off and stumbles forward, he has to go back to where he fell and resume.
“It's a balance between going faster and pushing myself and making sure I don't fall off and lose 10 to 20 seconds,” McQuiston said. Advancements in pogo stick technology have progressed from the traditional spring-action model to ones that are air-powered to provide for more boost for various stunts, McQuiston said. He bought one when he graduated high school two years ago. They cost around $400, but he said it was a good investment. “Xpogo is an emerging sport that many people haven't heard of,” McQuiston said. “There are professionals who can do all sorts of crazy tricks that I can't do yet.”
An Xpogo stunt team, made up of the best pogoers in the world, tours different cities and performs at shows.
Pogopalooza, an X Games-style event built around Xpogo with competition, exhibitions and world-record attempts, has come to Pittsburgh three times, most recently in Braddock in 2016.
After a one-year hiatus in 2017, Ryan said, all future Pogopalooza events will be held in the Pittsburgh area.
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer.