Slippery Rock pole vaulter is raising the bar
College Football Videos
Cameron Daugherty is most assuredly not afraid of heights.
The Slippery Rock graduate student experienced the thrill of a lifetime during a skydiving trip in fall 2011.
Now, he's looking to soar again, just not as high. Somewhere above 5 meters should do just fine.
Daugherty, a pole vaulter, will get that opportunity Saturday at the NCAA Division II indoor track and field championships in Birmingham, Ala. But his focus isn't solely on winning a national title.
“To be honest, I haven't even thought about winning,” he said. “I just want to hit the points that we've been focusing on over the past couple of weeks. I know if I do that, there's a good chance that we definitely have the ability to come home with another championship.”
That's exactly what he did last May in Pueblo, Colo., at the outdoor championships. And he did it with what was diagnosed as a stress fracture in his foot.
Daugherty brought home gold — Slippery Rock's first outdoor title since Steve Rihel won the javelin in 1997 — by clearing 5.15 meters in weather conditions reminiscent of Slippery Rock, where the team practices no matter what's happening outside.
“When we went to the national championship, we were jumping into the wind, and it didn't faze Cameron,” said assistant coach Bill Jordan, who works closely with Daugherty. “Where other kids kind of balked or got nervous, Cameron just did his thing. ... He was mentally the toughest kid under those conditions.”
And that was a far cry from last year's indoor championships, where he “freaked out.” Instead of focusing on himself, he stressed over things outside of his control. The result was a disappointing ninth place, a year after claiming fourth in his first appearance at the indoor national championships.
“I ended up choking, basically,” he said.
With a different mindset now, Daugherty believes he's peaking mentally and physically at the perfect time. He's also using a longer pole than last year, which could help him reach new heights.
“He finds the next level to get his body to, to get himself to mentally,” Jordan said. “And that's a great thing in pole vault because the bar keeps going up, no matter what. You either get tougher and tougher as the bar goes up and the competition gets more fierce, or you're going to be the first one out.”
Some of the mental discipline comes from his upbringing, with his father a chief judge for the Navy-Marine Corps Trial Judiciary. Part of that job meant traveling, so he spent three years in Japan before graduating from high school in Hawaii. Adjusting to the different climate took a while.
“The first year was absolutely terrible. I was wearing three pairs of pants to school walking to class in minus-30-degree wind chill, which was terrible because Hawaii, it was never colder than 70 degrees,” he said. “The weather was what really killed me. When we started our outdoor season, I'd be wrapped up in blankets that I had to bring from home trying to stay warm.”
As far as superstitions go, Daugherty wears his spandex track uniform all day on competition days, something that started in ninth grade with his wrestling singlet. And he usually downs a bunch of Oreos at meets.
“Maybe I should make the switch to protein and something will change,” he said with a laugh, “but I like where things are at right now.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.