By Charles Whisnand
Appeal Sports Editor
FOLSOM, Calif. " While Mike Arnold wouldn't use any excuses, the challenge of competing in a national meet during his graduation week evidently proved to be more difficult than thought.
Arnold's participation in Saturday's Golden West Invitational was a lot shorter than expected as he missed on all three of his tries in the pole vault at 15 feet, 3 inches, the first height he tried to clear. Arnold became a Carson High School graduate on Saturday morning when he participated in Carson's graduation ceremony.
The ceremony began at 10 a.m. and Arnold left for Folsom at 12:30 p.m. He arrived in Folsom less than two hours before the scheduled start time of 4:30 p.m. for the pole vault.
Arnold, though, said that warmups went well after he arrived in Folsom. But he admitted with it being graduation week, his practice didn't go all that well during the week. There was also the North wind that's prevalent in the Sacramento area that Arnold had to deal with. It was a cross wind the vaulters had to deal with as they were going from West to East.
"I just didn't have that good of practice during the week," Arnold said. "The wind didn't really help."
But Arnold said his graduation and the wind really weren't factors.
"I just couldn't do it today," he said. "I just didn't have that good of day."
On Thursday, Arnold said he did have a good day of practice. He easily cleared 15-9 and Arnold said he believed he would have been able to clear 17-0 on that jump.
Arnold almost cleared 15-3 on his first attempt and then changed his approach each time on his last two attempts, but didn't come as close as he did on his first jump. He admitted afterward he wished he would have stayed with the approach he had on his first attempt.
"The first jump felt pretty good," Arnold said.
But he also admitted he didn't have enough power on his takeoff.
"I was really flat off the takeoff which caused me not to get any push off," he said. "But it's OK. It just makes me more determined to work harder for next year."
Arnold has an offer from Idaho State, an offer Arnold said, "I'm really looking seriously at. I'll probably decide in the next week or two where I'm going to college."
In the meantime, Arnold, who has cleared 16-1, will now have a better chance to prepare for his next event. He's debating on if he'll compete in the Junior Olympic Regional Championships in Livermore, Calif., on June 21 or at the Nike Outdoor Nationals in North Carolina on the same weekend. If he competes in the Junior Olympic Regionals, he'll have a chance to qualify for the Junior Olympic Nationals in Livermore in July.
"I kind of took this week easy," admitted Arnold, saying he was more focused on graduation. But now Arnold said he'll now be able to work out regularly in the weightroom and added, "I'm going to practice every day."