Highland Park’s Edward Smoliak looking to ‘go higher’

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WILMETTE — Edward Smoliak won the pole vault at the Loyola Sectional and advanced to the Class 3A state track and field meet with equipment he hadn’t used that much this season.

Although the Highland Park junior bought the pole he competed with at Loyola May 22 in February, he said he didn’t the put carbon-fiber pole into use until earlier this month.

But Smoliak still managed to reach a career-best height of 14 feet, 4 inches to finish first by more than one foot. He came close to clearing 14-9.

“This one is harder to bend, but it can be more explosive,” said Smoliak, who previously used a fiberglass pole.

Highland Park coach Kevin Caines said Smoliak’s best quality as a vaulter is his consistency. Caines said Smoliak, who had the fourth-best mark at the 11 3A sectionals, always gives himself a chance to win.

“He’s been coming on strong, and he’s really put himself in a great place,” said Caines, who also coached senior Angel Estrada (1,600-meter run) and Benjamin Rogin (110-meter high hurdles) to the state meet. “His consistency bodes well for him.”

Smoliak said another week with the new pole should be enough to get him another personal-best height, this time at Eastern Illinois in Charleston. The Class 3A preliminaries are Friday.

“I am confident in my ability, and I know I have the capability to go higher,” Smoliak said.

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