BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — He grins through braces as a teenager might.
But Isaiah Whitaker is already showing a mighty good game in his first year of high school track and field. Last Friday, the 15-year-old pole vaulter clears 16-feet, 6.75 inches in setting an indoor state record at the Illinois Top Times Meet.
“It’s great. Freshman year, having the state record,” Whitaker said. “Feels awesome.”
The Central Catholic freshman already had a winning reputation after setting a world record for 14-year-old pole vaulters at an AAU meet last August.
He’s competing in four sports at Central Catholic. He’s finished football and basketball season and now is entering a spring sports season where he’s splitting time between basebal land track.
But he says pole vaulting is where he gets the biggest thrill.
“The crowd really gets me,” said Whitaker. “Having everyone clap for me as you go down the runway. It gives you a boost of energy to get you over the bar.”
He’s also getting a boost from former Bloomington High School star pole vaulter Zach Bradford, who’s now one of the top pole vaulters in the nation at Kansas. They train at the same gym, The Flying Dragons, in Bloomington.
“We talk back and forth. He tries to help me out. It’s great having him behind me,” Whitaker said. “He’s a great guy, jumped great. I’m hopefully going for his records. I’m hoping to break his records by sophomore or junior year and be the highest jumper in the state.”
Bradford’s Illinois High School Association state record is 17-feet, six inches. Whitaker says he’s going after that mark.
If his freshman numbers are any indication, he’s well on his way to do that.