February 25, 2009

Q and A: Pole Vaulter Ben Cogdill

Feb. 25, 2009

By Keenan Bowen, EWU Sports Information

He is just one of many Eastern Washington University Track and Field athletes traveling to Flagstaff, Ariz., this Friday (Feb. 27) and Saturday (Feb. 28) for the Big Sky Championships, but pole vaulter Ben Cogdill has accomplished something this season that none of his peers have – breaking a school record.

Cogdill is in his first season competing for the Eagles, having redshirted last year after transferring from Big Sky Conference member Portland State. The junior from Estacada, Ore., wasted no time making an impact for EWU, breaking the old pole vault mark of 16-5 with a cool 16-8 at the Runner’s Soul Open on Feb. 7. The 20-year-old record was previously set by Todd Freitag in 1989.

He enters Saturday’s pole vault competition ranked second behind Sam Pierson of Idaho State with a mark of 17-0 3/4.

With the record out of his way, Cogdill and the rest of the Eagles have their sights set on the BSC Championships. A total of 23 men’s qualifiers and 16 women’s qualifiers will make their way to Flagstaff this week. Placing in the top three in their event will earn the athletes all-conference honors.

Q: This is just your first year competing at EWU, and you've already set a school record. How does that feel and describe your emotions after the record jump?

A: "It feels absolutely amazing! It was definitely one of the most exciting moments in my pole vaulting career so far. Not only because it was the school record, but also because it has been about three years since I have had a personal record. So it just really reassured me on my decision to come be a part of this track program. After my jump at 16-8, I kept thinking there’s no way that just happened, no way."

Q: Why did you choose to transfer to EWU from Portland State?

A: "Portland State’s track and field program just wasn’t a good fit for me. I wasn’t happy about how things were going for me educationally or athletically. So when my pole vault coach left at the end of my freshman year, I just felt that it was time for me to move on and try to better my situation. Eastern seemed like a place that I could be happy and successful in both of those areas, and that’s definitely how my time here has been so far."

Q: At PSU, you were a teammate of current EWU jumps coach Jonathan Hill. What is it like having him here with you at Eastern?

A: "It’s been great -- Jon was a great teammate and leader at PSU. I was super excited when he told me that he was going to be the new jumps coach here."

Q: Does it give you any advantage over your peers having already known coach Hill?

A: "I definitely think that I had a slight head start on my teammates just because I’d been through this exact training program when he and I were together at PSU."

Q: Where do you want your personal record to be for the pole vault when your college career is over and how will you accomplish it?

A: "That’s kind of a tough question for me to answer right now because I don’t quite know what I’m capable of yet. Ideally, I’d like to reach the high 17’s or even break 18 feet. I have a lot of things to fix and a lot of hard work to do before I can even think about going that high. But I feel that I have a great group of coaches and teammates here that are going to bring out the best in me."

Q: Outside of track and field, what other hobbies do you enjoy?

A: "I have a serious obsession with music, so anytime I get the chance I listen to my IPod. Back when I actually had free time I took every opportunity I could to be outside. Other than that, I spend most of my time relaxing with my girlfriend, friends and family when I see them."

Q: What are your goals for the remainder of the season?

A: "I’d like to raise my personal record some more and I’m hoping to be one of many Eagles to challenge for a Big Sky Conference title. I really just want to contribute as much as I can to the men’s team doing well at the championships this weekend."

Q: Who have been the most influential people in your athletic career?

A: "My entire family has always been my biggest fans and support group, and I wouldn’t be where I am without all of them. My pole vault coach and trainer back home gave me a great base to work with when I got to EWU, and everyone involved with this program has been nothing but spectacular so far."

Q: What aspect of the pole vault do you like best?

A: "Probably the camaraderie that this sport has -- the pole vault community is basically just a huge family. Everyone involved with it tries to help each other in any way they can, whether it’s loaning out poles or helping others with their technique. It’s really something special."

Q: If you had to pick a running event to compete in, what would it be and why?

A: "I’d say long distance for sure. I love how much strategy is involved in each race, and it is fun seeing things unfold as the race goes on."

Q: Who would make the better pole vaulter, coach Stan Kerr or coach Marcia Mecklenburg?

A: "Man, that is a loaded question! I don’t want to get on anyone’s bad side so I’m just going to say that they would both be equally as good at it."

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