Haywood soars to success in pole vaulting


Tom DiGrispino

Senior Cayden Haywood

Senior Caden Haywood first got into pole vaulting when he was recommended by Mr. Josh Haynes, an assistant coach, during his freshman year. He started pole vaulting his Sophomore year. 

Since then, he has emerged as one of the top pole vaulters in the Region.

“You have to be mentally strong and, if you want to clear bigger heights, you can’t be scared of the bigger poles,” Haywood said. “You have to be calm, relaxed, and act like you’re having fun. If you’re too stressed, you won’t have a good jump.”

Pole vaulting definitely isn’t an easy sport. There’s a lot of training and practice that go into it before you can be on the field and jumping. 

“One of the hardest parts about pole vaulting is the mental aspect because there are a lot of people watching you and it can create a lot of fear,” Haywood said.

However, Haywood has had a lot of success. He recently set a new personal record for himself by jumping a 14 ‘9 at the Lime City Relays, where he won the event. 

“It was nice outside and I was calm and collected so that’s why I hit a new personal record,” he said. “My biggest achievement was during my Junior year when I jumped a 14 feet, 6 inches because that was my goal at the beginning of the year and that was pretty big for a junior, and I made it to state that year, too.”

With all these highs, there are some lows.

“My biggest struggle with pole vaulting was being scared of the pole,” Haywood said. “I was only scared because I’ve never done something like pole vaulting before. I wasn’t getting good heights until I hit my [new] personal record and that gave me a breakthrough to calm down and focus more.”

Haywood uses some special techniques to maintain the right mindset for pole vaulting. He finished second in the recent DAC championship as the team won their fourth straight title. They are preparing to defend their Sectional championship today. 

“My key to success is prayer,” he said. “I try to stay calm and relaxed and have confidence in myself and not doubt myself.”

As far as his future in pole vaulting, Haywood planned on taking a gap year after high school and could potentially return to pole vaulting during his college years, but he hasn’t made his mind up yet.