HomeNewsMireles’ work vaulted him to championship

Mireles’ work vaulted him to championship

Adolfo Mireles wasn’t a track athlete at Madison Academic High School his freshman year.

“My friends who were already on the team talked me into it, and I started working for it and then COVID hit and we didn’t have a track season that year,” said Mireles, who was a freshman in the spring of 2020 when the pandemic caused Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee to shut down in-person classes for the final two months of the school year and cancel all TSSAA activities.

But he continued to work his sophomore, junior and senior seasons, and that work culminated with a state championship in the TSSAA Class A pole vault competition, silver medals in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles and a bronze in the decathlon.

Mireles’ 37 points recorded by himself with his top-tier finishes were good enough to rank Madison seventh in Class A in points.

“Adolfo is a great athlete who has abilities in different areas,” said Madison track coach Brian Buchholz. “We saw that he could run long-distance runs and did well in the shorter sprints too.

“So we started last year trying to develop him in the areas where he needed the most improvement like the hurdles, pole vault, discus and shot put.”

That work paid off. He made it to state last year in the pole vault and finished eighth.

“I had a bad day that day,” Mireles said with a chuckle looking back on the year before.

His official height in the competition that he cleared was 8-feet-6-inches, even though he’d cleared higher marks in the season leading up to that.

“I just set my goals on doing better in state this year and winning,” Mireles said.

Most of the guys who finished ahead of him last year graduated this year, so mathematically, his chances to compete for the championship should’ve improved. But he still had to record a higher mark.

He and two other Mustang pole vaulters were able to travel to Memphis at least once per week – sometimes twice – to get specific coaching at Memphis University School.

“We had to do some fundraising to be able to make that trip and pay for that coaching,” Buchholz said. “While there are a few facilities in this part of the state that have most field events, there’s not a pole vault pit anywhere near here closer than Memphis.

“So if our pole vaulters were going to get any coaching in that event, we knew we had to set something up where they would get coached, get to practice and we had to get them in a JMCSS van and get them down there.”

Buchholz also tried to schedule a few meets that were out of the normal schedule for track teams in the area. They competed in Kentucky and Middle Tennessee, and Mireles was able to get some competition reps in pole vault at those meets.

“Any work I could get was important, because I had to get my timing and technique down,” Mireles said.

And they had to work out a strategy they felt would put him in position to bring home gold.

“I felt if he could clear 12 feet, he’d probably win the championship,” Buchholz said. “So that was a height we were aiming for.”

Mireles cleared all the marks, starting at eight feet and moving up six inches each time. As he approached his final attempt, Buccholz had an idea. Even though 11-feet-6-inches was set to be his next attempt, he suggested Mireles go ahead and try for 12 feet.

Buchholz admits it was a risk, but both he and Mireles felt like Mireles could clear it. And if he did, his main competitor, who was one of the three returning athletes who finished ahead of him a year before, would need to clear 12-feet-6-inches to get the championship because he’d missed one more mark than Mireles had previously.

Mireles said his approach to that 12-feet attempt was the same as all his previous tries the entire season.

“The technique is to run as fast as I can to get as much momentum going as possible, plant the pole, keep my arms straight and ride it over the bar,” Mireles said. “I’ve got video of when I did it, and you can hear me let out a little scream as I go over the bar because I knew I’d cleared it and I’d hopefully done enough to win the championship at that point.”

Mireles’ competitor did fail to get over 12-feet-6-inches, giving him the gold medal.

Next up for Mireles is figuring out his next move. He hasn’t decided on a college yet, but he and Buccholz are talking to different college track programs about competing with them.

With a 3.4 grade-point average, his academic resume will garner him a good amount of scholarship money, so choosing a college depends on what classes they offer related to his major and if there’s a track program present with a spot for him.

“I’ll figure it out, but I would like to continue to compete,” Mireles said. “It’s been a great experience here at Madison, so I’d like to keep doing it if I can.”

Brandon Shields, brandon@jacksonpost.news

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