Flores leaves a pole vaulting legacy

Recent Gilroy High graduate Logan Flores finished seventh in the pole vault in the CIF State Championships.

With a seventh-place finish in the 2018 CIF State Championships, Logan Flores will go down as one of the greatest track and field athletes in Gilroy High history. Flores, who graduated Friday, cleared 15 feet, 4 inches, the third best mark of his burgeoning career.

“I enjoyed the moment, and it was a great experience overall,” he said. “The fans were really involved and engaged, and there were a lot of oohs and ahs and clapping for all the competitors. I had a big support system there: my whole family, my cousin’s family, aunts and uncles. There were probably 12 to 15 people along with my coaches, too.”

The CIF State Championships featured a preliminary round on June 1 and the finals the next day. Flores sailed through the preliminary round, which actually surprised him. Flores said he was exhausted leading up to the event; in fact, Flores was so tired he actually took a nap on the field before his name was called to vault.

“I was getting enough sleep but waking up in the morning exhausted,” he said. “I’d come home from school and go to sleep again, and it stressed me out that my body needed to take naps after school because I usually don’t take naps. Going into the competition I was not anxious at all because I was too exhausted to be nervous. I put my chair down and took a nap on the field before it was my turn in the competition, and I enjoyed it.”

Flores, who will be attending UC Santa Barbara on an athletic and academic scholarship—he had a superb 4.2 GPA at Gilroy High—produced a solid mark at state despite not being at his best. In the finals, Flores cleared 14-10 and 15-4 on his second attempt before getting three cracks at 15-10, which he has cleared once when he nailed a spectacular personal-record (PR) of 16-1 ½ in the CCS Top 8 Meet on April 21.

Flores said he didn’t really come close to clearing 15-10, and that was OK by him. Sure, Flores wanted to clear it, but he knew that would have to come on another day.

“I don’t think I had it that day,” he said. “I wasn’t able to follow through like I normally do, and I couldn’t get enough out of my jumps and get enough pull to get over the bar.”

Flores had an epiphany of sorts once the competition was over. Usually when his season ends, Flores immediately looks ahead to the next season and thinks about making changes to improve. It’s just in his nature. This time, however, Flores did a lot of reflection in a season in which he cleared 15 feet nine times in competition, a huge improvement from the 2017 season in which his PR was 14-6.

“After I finished, I was happy and sad with a lot of mixed emotions,” he said. “I was very excited to have the season over with and take a nice little break and reflect on what I’ve done and just enjoying the moment. I reflected on the past experiences and the new friends I’ve made who I am still interacting with. I’m not too concerned about next year, which is something I’ve done in the past right after a season ends. I’m just enjoying the moment.”

After making the first contact with UC Santa Barbara, Flores maintained in touch with assistant coach Robert Marlow. But things didn’t start heating up in the recruiting process until Flores went 15-2 at the Knights Invitational on April 13. When Flores took an official visit to UC Santa Barbara, he knew it was the place for him and thought everything was in line for the Gauchos to offer him a scholarship on the spot.

“I was excited and expecting they would offer a scholarship,” Flores said. “But later on (the UC Santa Barbara coaches) said, ‘OK, Logan, everything checks out fine. You have the marks to qualify to be on the travel team and we’ll be recruiting you as a walk-on.’”

That statement was a punch in the gut to Flores, but rather than sulk Flores told Marlow “that I would hit 16 (feet) soon.” And that’s exactly what happened when Flores nailed his PR at the CCS Top 8 Meet. Flores texted the mark to Marlow, who initially said, “talk is talk” after Flores said he would clear 16 feet, which proved prescient.

“Once I texted him, I think it surprised him because he took two days to respond,” Flores said. “He said congrats and that I was a man of my word about clearing the height I said I would clear. That is when they offered.”

In his interactions with Marlow, Flores said the Gauchos’ assistant coach remarked how Flores did well in less than ideal vaulting conditions, his consistency and that “I exemplified a student-athlete.” Indeed, Flores’ 4.2 GPA is proof that he took academics as seriously as he did athletics.

Joe Miyoshi, who coaches Flores and is a renowned pole vaulting coach based out of Soquel High and the Santa Cruz Track Club, said Flores’ best attribute is his ability to take in information and implement that into his vaults.

“Most of improving is exercising the most important muscles—your right and left ear,” Miyoshi said. “Are you listening, are you hearing? If you’re a good listener, you’ll probably be a good pole vaulter. Logan was really great—probably the best boys pole vaulter I’ve had in 20-something years. You can tell him something and he was, ‘OK, I’ll do that, I’ll try that.’ He had an open mind and was willing to learn. He took risks without blinking an eye, and of course we didn’t put too much how would you say danger right away—he earned his way to that point. He answered the bell every time it rang in terms of learning a new drill and application.”

Miyoshi, who started working with Flores two years ago, said the recent Gilroy High graduate has all of the intangibles to do well at the Division I level.

“Logan is really good in pressure situations,” Miyoshi said. “When I started working with him, he really took it seriously and knew it was crunch time for him hoping to get some knocks on the doors from colleges. I want to say you have to be obsessed in a healthy way (to excel in the pole vault). Logan has been a real spark and example of yes, there are boys out here in the area who can reach the state level—we just have to find them and develop them. Logan was great to work with, and I’m kind of spoiled now to find a kid that works that hard.

“I’ve had six dedicated boys like that in 30 years, and the five others are doing well in their professions. Logan is brilliant academically and one of those rare kids who did it all. If I found him a year earlier, he’d be a 17-footer. That’s speculation, but based on the way he’s progressed, 17 would be a conservative guess on how high he could’ve gone. But now I hand him off to the Santa Barbara coaches, wish him the best of luck and tell him to remember how he got here and to be his own best coach.”

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