Boys track and field: Lake Park's Frye, Marmion's Saloga still hoping to renew rivalry
When he heard school was closed and spring sports were suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lake Park's Zach Frye leapt into action.
The defending Class 3A pole vault champion grabbed a pole from the Lancers' stockpile, tied it to his Chevrolet Colorado and wound through the Roselle streets to his home within sight of the school.
The Louisville commit was six days removed from vaulting 16 feet at the Windy City Pole Vault Summit at Rolling Meadows. It was the second time this season Frye had broken Lake Park's indoor record set by 2016 Olympic decathlete Zach Ziemek.
"It's really hard to believe I took my last indoor high school vault without even realizing it," Frye said.
At that same Windy City meet, Marmion senior Andrew Saloga nipped Frye by clearing 16 feet on his first attempt. Frye made it on his third.
That continued a pattern between the two vaulters dating to the finals of the 2019 Class 3A state meet in Charleston. Frye cleared his first attempt at 15 feet, 3 inches while Saloga needed a second chance. By that thin margin the Lake Park athlete won a state title.
"It's fun to compete against each other," said the Kansas-bound Saloga, who cleared 16-4¾ at Rise Athletic Club -- where Frye also trains, under the esteemed Winder family of vaulters -- and has cleared 16-6 in practice. Saloga and Frye had the top two vaults in Illinois this indoor season.
"He always gets me going and gets me in the right mindset, because most meets at the high school level you don't have anyone over the 12-foot level, so another 15-foot, 16-foot jumper is fun to compete against," said Saloga, a three-time state qualifier who holds Marmion's record.
Time is running out on the possibility of a rematch. Barring the unforeseen they'd conclude their high school careers back in Charleston.
"I was looking forward to that. I knew that was a goal of his, to win state, and it was my goal to not let that happen, of course. I was looking forward to it a lot," Frye said.
"At this point all we would like to do is take our last high school vault and know that it is for sure. I don't like this whole limbo that we're in."
Neither vaulter has been sitting on his hands. The chin-ups and pullups both are doing build strength to drive the pole more firmly into the pit and get them up and over the bar.
Frye, built like a running back, is doing plyometrics, abdominal work, and sprints to increase speed down the runway.
Self-motivation is not easy.
"At times it's hard to have the inclination actually to go outside and go and do it," Frye said. "Then you have to remind yourself that there's a good chance the season's going to come back and if not you have to be ready for next year, your first college season."
Saloga has a nice setup with a high bar and a set of rings in his basement for upper-body strength and basic inversions.
He has a better deal at his grandfather's house, a pole vault pit they built a few years ago. Edward Saloga Sr., held Kaneland's record at 11-2 in the 1950s, Andrew said, back in the steel pole days.
"I've been going there quite a bit and getting my jumps in," Andrew Saloga said. "It's a pretty nice advantage to have a place to jump when everybody else can't jump."
They're friendly rivals who checked on each other's college plans and video game collection. Saloga feels that he competes more against himself than against other vaulters. That's why his miss at 15-3 last May still bugs him.
"That was a huge motivation for me to go into the offseason," he said.
At this point that "good chance" to compete this spring might not look so great, but the two seniors are more than ready to get after it if they get the chance.
"Every day I'm just hoping and praying that I didn't take my last high school vault," Frye said.
"I would rather lose a state championship than not have a chance at competing for another one."