At the beginning of his freshman year, senior Sean Licata, then a small and quiet newcomer, stood with approximately 30 other freshmen who wanted to try pole vaulting. On his first attempt, he could only clear 6-6. Three years later, he is a leader on the boys track and field team and holds a personal record of 13-5 ½, which is the highest pole vault of all current Glenbrook North athletes as of March 3, 2020.
Licata said pole vaulting can be scary sometimes, but when he is in the air he does not have time to think about anything besides trying to clear the bar or complete the drill.
According to Pole Vault Coach Aaron Brown, pole vaulting is a challenging sport that requires an aggressive athlete who is coordinated, fast and strong. Licata has been willing to put the time in to become that kind of athlete, both in and out of season. He consistently attended the team’s preseason workouts and sessions with TCBOOST trainers.
This past fall, Licata signed up for a pole vaulting camp called GetVertical Pole Vault in Barrington. During this camp, he pole vaulted every Sunday for eight weeks. Licata also participates in meets outside of the school’s track program, such as the Illinois MileSplit Showcase, during which he scored his personal record.
Licata, who is also a sprinter, said he has gotten a lot faster and has been more successful with sprinting this year.
During a school track meet held on Feb. 19, he completed the 200-meter run in 24.14, which was the fastest time out of all the other GBN athletes in that event.
Being faster gives pole vaulters the ability to run from further distances and use bigger poles, which improves the heights they can clear, Licata said.
Joseph Sauk, a sprinter on the boys track and field team, said it was crazy to see how much faster Licata has gotten. Sauk attributes this improvement to Licata’s determination to train. Licata’s work ethic has motivated Sauk to improve his own sprinting and encourages him to catch up with Licata during sprints.
Licata is like an older brother on the team who will take time to teach his teammates and is always there for others, Sauk said.
At the Downers Grove South Mustang Relays, the last meet prior to the indoor track season’s cancellation due to COVID-19, GBN placed ninth out of 34 teams.
Licata said he now has a personal goal of 15 feet, surpassing the qualifying height for state, 13-8.
“I just try to stay focused and locked in and just try to beat the person next to me or beat the other [people] around me,” said Licata. “Focus on each height or time.”