EWU vaulter Larry Still reaches new heights in the pole vault


The Easterner Archives

Senior Larry Still has battled through adversity to become EWU’s top pole vaulter. At the 47 Pueller Invitational he set the school record vault of 17-feet-6.5-inches.

By Drew Lawson, Reporter

EWU senior Larry Still is accustomed to reaching new heights.

Still cleared 16-feet-5.5-inches in the pole vault on May 11 to win his fourth Big Sky Conference title. He won the BSC in the 2018 and 2016 indoor seasons, as well as the 2016 outdoor season.

While the Richland, WA native has found success in his career, the victories haven’t come without challenges.

Still has dealt with several injuries that have hindered his ability to consistently remain on the track, but has still found a way to increase his vaulting height.

“He’s improved quite a bit,” EWU pole vault coach Eric Allison said. “He came basically as a 15-feet-6-inch athlete. Now he’s almost two feet higher. We’ve still got another year with him. If he hadn’t had so many injuries I think we’d be a little farther along.”

During Still’s sophomore season, an injury to his patellar tendon kept him out of vaulting for six months. Last season, he suffered a near-fully torn hamstring and has been dealing with a groin injury this season. Still said his mentality during the recovery processes was to enjoy the time he had in the sport.

“You can’t always control when injuries are going to happen,” Still said. “Pushing through them and getting stronger, so I don’t have those injuries is pretty much my mentality.”

Still said this season has gone “wonderfully,” because he hasn’t had to deal with those injuries and has stayed relatively healthy throughout the indoor and outdoor season. This year he won two BSC titles and broke the school record for pole vault with a jump of 17-feet-6.5 inches at the Pelluer Invitational on April 12. That jump is currently ranked No. 20 in Division I men’s track.

EWU head coach Stan Kerr said the injuries have caused Still to have somewhat of a roller-coaster career as an Eagle.

“When he’s on he’s really on,” Kerr said. “You get hit with a couple of injuries … It takes a long time to get back to that high level of performing.”

Kerr added that the coaches, including himself and Allison, have had to push Still to get through his injuries.

“At this point, to get back on top (he) knows what it takes,” Kerr said. “You have to get a little bit uncomfortable to get to that level that he wants to be at. Eric knows how to push and how to hug.”

Kerr said that when Still first came in, the coaching staff had to get on him for having some struggles in the classroom.

“He came in, maybe didn’t have a good quarter academically,” Kerr said. “That weighs on you because you’re representing athletics. You’re expected to do better. It’s a scholarship, not an athletic-ship.”

While Kerr said Still hasn’t always handled adversity gracefully, he noted that Still has “figured some things out.” He pointed out that athletes won’t get crucified for making a mistake, but are held to a high standard. Still said he’s been pushed a lot and has noticed an emphasis on getting involved in the community.

“Eastern’s really big on giving back,” Still said. “Whether it’s working middle school meets, pushing academics, pushing being a good teammate. The (coaches) push a lot of fundamentals.”

Still said time management has been a skill he’s had to learn throughout his college career.

“Between sports, church and school, it’s a lot,” Still said. “You gotta be focused down and you gotta be scheduled. If you’re not scheduled, you might be late a whole bunch.”

Still picked up pole vaulting his freshman year at Richland High School. He had planned on playing baseball, but his friend encouraged him to try track. Pole vaulting is the only event Still has ever done competitively.

“I tried out for the first week of track, and my friend said, ‘hey, come try this stick thing,’” Still said. “I said, ‘what do you mean?’ and he said, ‘yeah, you take a stick and jump in this big mat.’ I went and tried it out and I’ve been doing it ever since.”

Still plans on trying to continue his pole vaulting career after his EWU stint is over.

“That is a big dream of mine,” Still said. “Depending on how everything goes, I’d like to make a run at the (Olympic) Trials. That’d be really cool.”

Allison said he thinks Still can eventually reach a mark in the 18’ range and that they’ll try to get him a mark to where he can compete in the trials. For now, Still looks to the West Regionals and a chance to qualify for the NCAA D1 Outdoor Championships.