LONGMONT — It wasn’t as if Steven Wacker grew up dreaming of competing in the pole vault at the collegiate level.
And yet, much like when the Longmont High standout sets the bar at a new, previously unattained height, once the opportunity became within the realm of possibility for Wacker, he attacked his goal with unrestrained zeal.
Wacker, who has his sights set on breaking the 17-year old school pole vault record of 16 feet, 2 inches, signed with Idaho State on Wednesday, joining five other Trojans athletes who signed letters of intent on the first day of the spring signing period.
Wacker, who trains at the Boulder-based pole vault club Above The Bar, was encouraged to check out the Pocatello, Idaho, school by Above The Bar coach John Carmony.
“I did 14-6 at the end of last year, so I was talking to some not-as-big schools,” Wacker said. “Then I hit 15-6 over the winter and I thought, ‘Oh, well maybe I can do this.’ I emailed their coach and he ended up getting back to me. It all happened very fast.
“I really liked the city. It’s really quiet, a nice city, and I felt safe. The campus is nice. It’s smaller but they have really nice practice facilities. And the coaches were awesome. I really felt like I was welcome there. It felt like the place to go.”
Joining Wacker in a ceremony Wednesday in the Longmont lobby was baseball star Reilly Mau (Metro State), diver Haley Schneider (University of Northern Colorado), golfer Jared Mannatt (Colorado School of Mines), and football players Jordan Johnson and Cris Chacon. Johnson and Chacon will play for North Central College, a Division-III program in suburban Chicago.
Schneider, who finished seventh at the Class 4A state diving finals, will cross paths with a familiar face in Greeley. Her brother, Brooks, is a junior on the Bears’ baseball team.
“I really liked the coaches and I clicked with the team really well,” Schneider said. “Also, I want to be a nurse, and UNC has a great nursing program. I have a family tie there and it’s close to home, so my parents can still watch.”
Chacon and Johnson did not intentionally make their college plans in tandem, but after they visited the North Central campus together the duo decided to pack their bags for the Windy City.
“For a Division-III program, they take their football very seriously,” Chacon said. “It is a well-organized, well run program. It all really caught me.”
Follow Pat Rooney on Twitter: @prooney07