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Would you stick with a sport if you cracked your head open, chipped your shoulder bone, hyperextended your knee or almost broke your tailbone?

How about if you went into a slump for a while? Would you quit?

Brian Wilhelm isn't like most of us. Bad times are when he thrives and achieves success.

He didn't quit the sport that practically tore him apart -- pole vaulting, which is a track and field event in which a competitor runs down a strip of track, planting down a huge pole and hoisting himself up over a bar, which can be placed high above 10 feet.

Brian, a junior at Williamsville North High School, has been pole vaulting since his sophomore year. Coach Jack Hartman suggested he try it; Brian decided it was very cool, and stuck with it.

In that one season, Brian did phenomenally well; he made States and the Empire State Games held in Buffalo last summer. His pole vaulting record at Williamsville North is 12 feet, 6 inches, but he has since extended it in practice to 12 feet, 9 inches.

He likes pole vaulting because of the "natural high" it gives him, he says.

Along his path to success, Brian has had some downfalls. He has suffered many injuries, and when that happened, Brian wasn't sure if he wanted to continue pole vaulting. He feared he might injure himself again.

He also faced a midseason slump, which is hard on any athlete. During his slump, he was in the state championships, and although he scored well, he did not do as well as he had anticipated.

This spring he will start a new season, and he hopes to exceed every record possible and avoid midseason slumps.

Brian's advice to those interested in becoming a pole vaulter or track star is that "ambition is key. If you don't push yourself and have high hopes, then you won't do very well."

In addition to pole vaulting in the spring, Brian plays varsity soccer in the fall, and will take up indoor track this winter.

He hopes for a college scholarship for pole vaulting. Even now, as a junior, he is thinking about college -- and with luck, his dreams and aspirations will take him farther than he ever expected.

Meg Glenn is a freshman at Williamsville North High School.

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