David Thibodaux's PV Maxwell Gautreau Still Going Up!


Most track and field athletes who are leaving behind a successful high school track and field career and going on to college to continue their career take the summer off to prepare for the transition. But then again, David Thibodaux STEM's Maxwell Gautreau is not your average athlete.

Gautreau and his coach, Shane LeLeaux with New Heights Gym in New Iberia, decided to make the most of their final months together before Gautreau heads off to Northwestern State University to become a Demon.

The move has paid off.

Gautreau jumped a 4-inch personal record at the USATF Southern Association Junior Olympics in Denham Springs reaching 15-0. In doing so, Gautreau moved from No. 5 in Louisiana to tied for No. 2. 

"It was hot that day, and I was just trying to get as many bars as I can," Gautreau said. "I jumped 13-0 and then went straight to 14-0 because it was too hot to keep jumping. I won on the 14-0 jump so my coach said 'let's go to 15-0. We're getting it today. The runway was super fast and I just went and hit it. The takeoff was absolutely horrible. It was not the position I was supposed to be taking off from. I said 'you know what, I'll take it up' and ripped it up there." 

Only ARCA's Lucas Owens (15-3) has a higher jump in 2024. Owens jumped 15-3 at the Snooks Relays during the second week of the season on March 7. Owens, who won the LHSAA Class 2A outdoor state championship with a jump of 14-4.75,  never came close to 15' for the remainder of the year. 

The only other vaulter who reached 15-0 in 2024 was Walker's Aiden Brumfield, who won the Grizzly Relays on April 11 with a jump of 15-0. 

Like Owens, Brumfield was never able to return to that form, but was the most consistent vaulter in Louisiana, jumping 14-0 in six meets during 2024. 

Gautreau heads to Jackson, Mississippi this weekend to compete in the USATF Regional Junior Olympics where he is looking to go even higher, but knows that in a sport like pole vaulting-anything can happen.

Just take last week's U.S. Olympics Trials, where the American record holder--KC Lightfoot--failed to make the finals. Lightfoot failed in three attempts at 5.60m despite jumping 5.80m in three of four meets leading up to the Trials. 

"This is a sport where anything can happen," Gautreau said. "I'm pretty confident, but anything can happen in this sport. I could not jump as high as a I want to. Even though I'm ranked first, I want to have that careful what you wish for attitude. Be careful with my jumps and be confident at the same time."

Gautreau is hoping to advance past the regional junior Olympics and advance to the USATF National Junior Olympics in College Station, Texas at the end of the month.