CHS grad dropping the 'Sledge' hammer
Corey Sledge, a former two-time state champion pole vaulter, has done nothing but improve and win more titles during his collegiate career.
Sledge was a phenomenal pole vaulter during his time as a Culver Bulldog. He won his first 2A state title his sophomore year and fell just short his junior year. In 2015, Kavic Belcastro, of Central Linn, set a 2A state pole vault record at 16-1, beating out Sledge for the title.
During his senior year, Sledge waited for all his opponents to fail at around 13 feet before easily making the mark to win the state title in 2016. Sledge wasn't satisfied with just winning his second gold trophy, but wanted to leave a legacy.
Sledge cleared the 14-6 height on his third attempt, and then cleared the next height, 15-6, on his second attempt. Pole vaulters only get three tries to leap over the pole and if they don't make it over on three tries, their last cleared height is recorded.
Corey Sledge moved the height up to 16-2 in attempt to break the 2A pole vault record. He failed on his first two attempts and only had one final chance to cement his name in the history books.
On his last attempt, Sledge cleared 16-2 and set the record for the highest leap in the 2A state meet. Sledge's 16-2 mark is also a Culver High School record, with the next closest height, at 14-1, set by Tyler Funk in 2011. Sledge also holds the fourth best leap in Culver's triple jump history (40-10).
"I would say I would credit my dad a lot for my success," Sledge said. "He mentored me and coached me all through high school and that's where I made most of my gains. It really just comes down to staying committed to my workouts. Eastern Oregon coaches have really helped me out this year, as well."
After his time at Culver High School, Sledge took his talents to Lane Community College. Sledge broke his arm during his first year at LCC and had to medical redshirt. During his official freshman year at Lane Community College, Sledge qualified to compete in the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham.
Sledge used his A-game to set a personal best record and win the pole vault NWAC title with a leap of 16-4.75. Sledge beat out LCC teammate Bai Aiello (16-3) to claim gold in 2018.
Sledge's time was up at LCC, but his pole vaulting journey was still going. He would have a chance to show his skills at Eastern Oregon University, in La Grande, during the most recent track season.
Once again, he qualified for another shot at a pole vaulting title — that time for Eastern Oregon at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Outdoor National Championships in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
Sledge would face the toughest competition in his track career, but was up to the challenge. With another personal best leap, he finished on top again. He had a leap of 16-8.75, beating out Jordan Downs, of Bethel Collegiate, in Mishawaka, Indiana (16-6.75).
He has had a personal best leap during every track year since he was a freshman and has produced personal best leaps on every championship meet dating back to his senior year at Culver High.
"That (personal bests) comes down to how you train," Sledge said. "You usually have a few training blocks throughout the year and it will progressively become easier and easier throughout your (workout) lifts. At the beginning of the year, you are lifting heavy, getting stronger and faster. You slowly start to decrease the difficulty of your workout and you start to train your fast-twitch muscles."
"When you are competing for championship meets, you are lifting really light weight," he said. "Another thing is, when I was indoors, I could only use a six-step run for practice, and outdoors I was at an eight-step run. That really helps because one thing my coach at Lane was really big on was peaking at the right time. We would progressively get longer on our run and by the end, you are strong, fast, fresh and going from your full approach."
Sledge is working on a Bachelor of Science, with a focus on physical therapy studies. He is returning to Eastern Oregon for his junior year next school session and will look to defend his title.
"Right now I am doing my summer workouts," he said. "I am going to return and keep training. My goal is to hit at least hit 17-6 next year."
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.