A lot of hard work and a little bit of space behind his mom's gym in Turlock went a long way for Silas Fredeen.
The Turlock High School pole vaulter was the only Stanislaus County athlete to reach a final at the CIF State Track and Field Meet earlier this month. For his accomplishment, he was named The Bee's All-District boys track athlete of the year.
"He has put in the work, the dedication and the focus," Turlock coach Bergann Hernandez said.
She marveled at his improvement from his sophomore to junior seasons, which began at 12 feet but grew to 15 feet, 3 inches twice, the most important occasion coming on Day 1 of the CIF State Track and Field Championships at Clovis.
Last summer, Fredeen said he worked hard at a makeshift, "backyard pole vault pit" out behind CrossFit Turlock, which is owned by his mom.
Typically, pole vaulting runways are about 130 or so feet. The one Fredeen trained on was at least half that, which he said allowed him to work on the fundamentals he attributed to his rapid improvement. Instead of a 15-foot pole, he was using one around 13 feet.
"The biggest issue was getting upside down ... shooting your hips through to get fully inverted," he said. "With the short runs, it slowed everything down so I could work on each part of it."
By the time he reached the start of his junior year, Fredeen was clearing 14 feet. By the end of March, he reached 15 feet. At the Central California Conference Championships, he PR'd at 15-3. When he cleared that same height in Clovis, it advanced him to the finals, where he finished 11th after clearing 14-10, but failing to reach 15-4.
When Fredeen initially went into track at Turlock, he wanted to be a sprinter or hurdler. Hernandez and former coach JoAnn Davison saw him more as a pole vaulter.
He gave it a try, admitting that "it was a little intimidating."
"There was a point where (Hernandez) didn't let us go on the pit until we were ready," he said. "When I cleared the bar for the first time, I was hooked after that."
His success this season allowed him to compete with the best from the state — Sondre Guttormsen of Davis Sr., who shattered the state meet record by 7 inches when he went 17-10. He's bound for UCLA.
Fredeen got to talk to him a few times this year and, like the rest of the competitors, marveled at the talented Norwegian.
"It was really cool to be able to compete with him," Fredeen said. "He's usually coming into the competition when most people are done.
"It makes me think that it's possible for me to jump that high."
With Fredeen's attitude and work ethic, anything is possible.
The Fredeen File
Favorite App: Instagram
Favorite Music: Hop-hop
Summer plans:Pole vaulting
Favorite athlete: USA Pole Vaulter Sam Kendricks
If I could have dinner with one person, who would it be?Sergey Bubka