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Zach Hayes commits to La Crosse to vault

April 17, 2020 by Brett LaBore

Over the last few months, a number of senior football players from Lakeland Union High School have committed to play collegiately. Now Zach Hayes can be added to the list, who’ll be competing in track and field in La Crosse.

“I am extremely excited,” he said. “La Crosse is a college I’ve been looking at for awhile, always been one of my favorites.”

Hayes committed to the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in March to do track and field, particularly pole vault, an event he flourished in at Lakeland. 

“Their track team is one of the top of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC), a very good track program. Lots of competition there,” he said. “Even if I decide not to do track, I can see myself going there as a student, not just an athlete.”

As a junior, Hayes posted a personal record vault of 13’9 at the sectional meet in Mosinee on May 23, 2019. He broke the school record by three inches. 

“The adrenaline rush of flying through the air, I guess there’s nothing really close to it and I just find it extremely fun,” he said. 

That helped Hayes to qualify for state last year, where he placed tied for fourth with a height of 13’6.

“There’s something about pole vaulting and the whole community of pole vaulting to do better and be better and get PRs and encouraging each other,” he said.

During his sophomore year, Hayes also advanced to state, where he tied for ninth with a vault of 13’6 as well. 

Hayes is also a two-time regional and conference champion. In addition to that, he was the highest freshman vaulter in the state of Wisconsin, flashing his high potential in the sport. He is also the LUHS indoor and outdoor vault record holder. 

It all started in middle school where Hayes recalls getting started in the sport.

“In eighth grade, I did my only meet in middle school at Tomahawk, a big step into it and that was awesome,” he said.

Another fun memory came two years ago in an indoor meet.

“Sophomore year me and (Jacob) Rexroade kind of having a jump off, tied the indoor record and that was fun,” Hayes said. 

The spring sports’ season is put on hold, but Hayes is preparing as if it will go on. If nothing else, it’ll get him ready for La Crosse.

“I’m training daily for it — sprint workouts, acting like it’s going to happen,” he said. “I’m going to La Crosse anyway for track. Might as well train for it now.”

Not only is Hayes an elite athlete when it comes to track and field, but also football. He was second team all-conference at the wide receiver position this past fall, showing the athleticism he possesses.

“A multi-time state caliber pole vaulter and the work that I know Zach puts in for track is incredible and really is a testament to his intrinsic motivation to be successful,” LUHS football coach Dan Barutha said. 

The power and speed Hayes uses in football is applicable to what he does in track and field. 

“Zach’s commitment and work in the weight room over four years has put him in position to have explosive movement and power and speed,” Barutha said. “We’re talking about the sprint down the runway and putting the pole in the ground and a burst of power and explosion to hurdle your body on the pole to get over the bar.” 

Regardless of what happens this spring, Hayes will be competing at La Crosse for track, one way or another. His passion and drive will take him far.

“Zach is hard-nosed, Zach cares,” Barutha said. “He’s very internally motivated and drives himself to be the best version that he can be. He’s a very intelligent and talented athlete all-around.”

Brett LaBore may be reached at [email protected] or [email protected]

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