Westgate Senior Cole Courtois Finds New Perspective At National Pole Vault Summit

Cole Courtois entered the National Pole Vault Summit on Saturday at the Reno Livestock Events Center in Nevada more prepared than a year ago.

In 2016, the New Iberia Westgate High (LA) senior pole vaulter had attended the national event, which brings together hundreds of the best competitors from across the country, and had even come away with a personal indoor record of 16 feet.

The new season brought new expectations and reasonable assumptions that he would go higher than ever before, especially considering he was routinely hitting above 17 feet in training.

But Courtois learned that things don't always goes according to plan. While the senior hit his first height of 15-10, he missed the ensuing mark of 16-4 and left knowing there was more room to grow.

"Anytime we go to a big meet or a national indoor competition I tell the athletes, 'You're putting yourself in a situation where you're good, but there are other athletes who are better than you,'" Courtois' private coach, Shane Leleux, said Tuesday. "I think he's learning that, if he gets a little bit better, a little bit stronger and a little bit faster, there's only one way to go and that's up."

Lee Summit (MO) junior KC Lightfoot won the elite boys division at a height of 16-10 on attempts versus North Canton Hoover (OH) senior Matt Peare, who hit the same height. Four others nailed attempts at 16-4. 

And yet, Courtois still came away with plenty of insight.

The competition came just two weeks into his indoor season and it marked the first time he was competing with a pole implement of 15 feet.

"I could have done better," said Courtois, who is looking into schools such as LSU, South Alabama and Air Force. "What happens happens. I wasn't disappointed. I didn't no height, but I wasn't super proud, either. Just room to grow."

At least this time he was more prepared for the atmosphere. Fourteen pits were on the ground at the Livestock Events Center, which meant 14 athletes were making runs at the same time.

Courtois, who takes eight lefts on the runway before lift off, knew he needed to have laser focus.

"There's no other meet like it in high school," the senior said. "It really gets you excited to go there. There are a bunch of athletes and people in the stands watching. It makes it more fun."

Courtois' career best in the pole vault came this past outdoor season at the Tiger Relays at Westgate when he hit a height of 16-2.

A region and state championship followed in May before efforts at New Balance Nationals Outdoor and the USATF National Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships.

The previous indoor season Courtois was second at Louisiana's indoor state meet (15-1.75) and 13th at New Balance Nationals Indoor (15-3.5).

"I think he's now getting the fact that he belongs," said Leleux, whose daughter, Reagann, also competed in the event in the elite girls division. "He's one of the better guys. Anytime they put you on Pit 1 (at the National Pole Vault Summit) with the elite guys, you have to know you're at their level."

Courtois may be one of the best pole vaulters in Louisiana, but he's still looking up.

Lafayette's Armand Duplantis is currently U.S. #1 with a mark of 18-5.

Courtois is U.S. #10 with his 15-10 jump at the Summit.

"I expected a big meet," Courtois said. "I knew how big it would be. The first time you go, I'm not sure you can appreciate what goes on. This time I was a lot more excited to be there and I wasn't just learning."

Now Courtois has set his sights on his next mission.

That's breaking Leleux's New Heights Gym record of 17-1, which was set by a former athlete at the Texas Relays.

The Westgate veteran has already nailed a few attempts in practice.

"I'm 80 percent I can do it," he said. "I just have to really try."

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