Flores, Sylva are high flyers

Logan Flores has a personal-best of 15 feet, 1 inch in the pole vault. Photo by Robert Eliason.

For Christopher High’s Keola Sylva and Gilroy High’s Logan Flores, the 2018 track and field season has been one to remember. And the season is only a month old. Sylva, a sophomore, and Flores, a senior, have the top marks in the Central Coast Section in the triple jump and pole vault, respectively.

Flores went 15 feet, 1 inch in the pole vault in last Saturday’s Garlic Classic to establish himself as the person to beat in the CCS. Christopher High hosted the Garlic Classic, and Cougars coach Jeff Myers said 50 schools participated, with 1,700 male entrants and 1,368 female competitors—an all-time high.

Sylva nailed a huge personal-record (PR) of 43-9 ¼ in the triple jump in the Wildcat Relays on March 10, the top mark in the section. Even though Flores and Sylva hit PRs early in the season, they both feel their recent performances might be a hint of even bigger things to come.

“I think I’m very close to clearing 16 feet in the near future,” said Flores, whose 15-1 mark ranks among the top 6 marks in the state.

Said Sylva: “(Christopher) coach Myers was saying I could go 44, 45 feet this year, and that is what I am aiming to do.”

It’s no surprise Flores and Sylva are excelling in all of their events—Flores also does the long jump and Flores the long jump, triple jump, 110 and 300-meter hurdles. They have compiled the best marks in their best events through talent and sheer, hard work. Flores also played on Gilroy’s water polo team last fall, making last summer a particularly busy one.

Somehow, Flores managed to balance everything out. During the summer, Flores had water polo conditioning/practice from 6 to 8 a.m., classes at Gavilan College from 10 to noon and pole vaulting practice at Soquel High from 1 to 5 p.m. Flores worked with renowned vault coaches Joe Miyoshi and Daniel Gutierrez, the latter having a huge impact in Flores’ development.

“Daniel has been spending a lot of 1 on 1 time with me and changing my technique a little to allow me to reach these higher marks,” Flores said.

At the Garlic Classic, Flores knew a big mark was coming. In his first meet of the season at the Wildcat Relays on March 10, Flores went 15 feet even. When Flores bettered that mark by an inch at the Garlic Classic, he did it with a new, longer and thicker pole made of different material.

Like any change, Flores felt uncomfortable holding the new pole at first. But after practicing with it for a week, he nailed his PR on his first attempt in the Garlic Classic. Flores easily cleared the bar, and said everything felt great.

“My reaction was it was a pretty easy jump,” he said. “It gave me relief and instant gratification because I had practiced all summer and hadn’t been able to get 15 feet at the All-Comers meets. It felt good to hit it, and I can’t wait to move up from here.”

The same goes for Sylva, who has made a meteoric rise to be one of the section’s best. Sylva had a PR of 40-9 in the triple jump as a freshman, setting things up for a spectacular sophomore season. In the Wildcat Relays, Sylva went 42-2 on his first jump and 42-9 on his second before smashing his PR on his third try.

Sylva didn’t wake up that Saturday thinking he was going to establish a new PR; in fact, he had a hard time getting out of bed.

“I was tired and didn’t want to get up as usual,” he said with a slight laugh. “But once I did, I did all my regular chores and got on my way to Watsonville High. Once I got there, they did the first call for the triple jump, so I didn’t have a chance to warm up. On my 43-9, I didn’t think I got 43 because I landed on my shoulder. When I found out my mark, I lost it I was so happy. I was jumping up and smiling, and it was the greatest feeling in the world.”

Sylva spent last summer watching videos and practicing to hone his form and technique. Sylva has an ideal place to practice: his backyard. His parents own a house that Sylva said has a one-acre backyard. The 6-foot-2, 150-pound Sylva has the perfect frame to excel in the triple vault.

Sylva credited Christopher jumps coach Carmen Patane for helping him hone in on the myriad technical aspects of the triple jump.

“I didn’t even know how to do (the) double arm (technique) before the season started,” Sylva said. “Coach Patane helped me with a lot of technical form, and it’s helped me a lot.”

Sylva can give Patane a little ribbing since Patane told Sylva to have a goal of around 43 feet before the season started. Sylva can’t wait to see what the future holds. He started triple jumping last year after Patane saw him jump in practice, and Sylva has taken off ever since.