Bradley Jelmert Vaulting His Way Into State History

There are goals aimed toward status, and there are goals for accomplishments. Watchung Hills senior Bradley Jelmert is a big believer in ignoring the former and pursuing the latter.

His philosophy is simple: While chasing history, he would rather not spend time admiring his progress.

His pursuit of history has ushered him to the No. 1 pole vault mark in the country this indoor season. Jelmert leads the nation with a 16-7 ¼ which he cleared on Dec. 27 at the Somerset County Championships at Lehigh University.

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See Pole Vault State Rankings

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Just a week earlier the Arkansas State commit became one of only six boys in the U.S. to clear 16 feet this season when he notched a 16-6 ½ at the Bishop Loughlin Games at the Ocean Breeze indoor complex in Staten Island. That effort made him just the third New Jersey boy ever to clear 16 feet indoors.

"Not too many people outside of my family and closest friends know about it," Jelmert said of his national ranking. "I'm not too showy about it."

Humility is just one of Jelmert's qualities. He's also got perspective. He said he refuses to get caught up in national hoopla because his indoor goal is 17 feet. That would tie him for the state record, set by Bill Lange of Bridgewater East in 1980. 

"It's crazy, thinking I'm No. 1," Jelmert said. "But kids are going to jump higher so I need to think constantly that I need to improve. Last year at this time someone jumped 17 feet so I wouldn't have been No. 1 then. You can never stop working because you never know who's going to beat you."

Under the tutelage of his father, Trevor (a 16-6 pole vaulter at Green Brook High, which is now Watchung Hills), and coach Carl Porambo, Jelmert trains at the Vault Factory at Rutgers.

"Flying in the air is a fun part of it," Jelmert said. "There's a feeling of when I put the pole in the ground and swing up under the pole and jump just right, you know when it's a good jump. It happens pretty fast but I can tell pretty quickly."

Because of his drive for achievement, Jelmert has become a student of his game. He has adapted quickly to the challenges of the sport and is constantly seeking methods for improvement. 

"I was never the fastest kid, I'm on the lighter side, and I'm not crazy strong, either. I'm lucky I've grown the last two years," Jelmert said. "The most important factor in my development has been finding new information about technology and how the pole vault works. I'm focusing on getting bigger poles, and gripping higher on the pole. Whatever gets me over the bar."

The homework and training are paying off for Jelmert. Considering that he first picked up a pole and launched himself skyward in the spring of his freshman year, there is no debate that his progress has been remarkable.

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See Bradley Jelmert's Career Stats

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Last winter -- just 18 months after picking up a pole vault for the first time -- Jelmert won Somerset County, Skyland Conference, North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 and state Group 4 indoor individual titles, and he placed second at the Meet of Champions (15-6).

Last spring Jelmert enjoyed more of the same success, and then some. He won county, conference, section and M of C titles. He cleared 16 feet for the first time at the East Coast Relays and became the first Jersey boy to reach that height in five years. At the North 2, Group 4 meet, he vaulted 16-1 ½ to rocket up to No. 5 on the state's all-time outdoor list. 

"There's an aspect of pole vaulting where there's always something to improve upon," Jelmert said. "But it's also very rewarding when you can achieve your goals and get the bar to the next height."

Once he reaches 17 feet -- something Jelmert is very confident about, since he said he's done so in practice -- the Watchung Hills senior will be looking to close out his high school career by chasing the outdoor state record, which is 17-4 ½, set by Ocean Township's Adam Sarafian in 2004. 

"I can jump 16 feet now pretty consistently," Jelmert said. "With six months of practice, I think the record is definitely achievable. It's within my range."