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HSE's Lugo a lot more than a pole vaulter
By Nat Newell
Posted: May 9, 2008
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As soon as Hamilton Southeastern High School's Joel (pronounced joe-EL) Lugo gets off the bus at a track meet he begins preparing for the pole vault: a couple of laps, some leg exercises, then he gets used to the runway.
When the bar is at the first height he attempts, it's time to go over and run the 400 meters.
There's also the 1,600 relay at the end of each meet and the 400 relay at the bigger events. ("That's like a warm-up," he said.) It should be no surprise Lugo's not big on superstitions to prepare himself to compete . . . he doesn't have time.
"I try to get a nap on the bus to charge myself," Lugo said. "That's it. I'm not into rituals."
Hamilton Southeastern competes in the Hoosier Crossroads Conference meet at Lafayette Jeff at 5:30 p.m. today and opens the postseason with the sectional at Carmel on Thursday. Lugo is looking to return to the state meet in the pole vault and will likely choose between the 400 and the 1,600 relay to allow him to compete at his best.
"He's nonstop," coach Joe Golden said. "He could perform well at any meet in the 100, 200, 400, and we could obviously use him in the (relays), and he's a state qualifier in the pole vault. That's (six) events, we can't use him in all of them, and there's the wear and tear (of competing in the limit of four events) because we have two, three meets a week.
"He's getting a real workout those days."
Lugo started track in the fourth grade and has done just about every event except distance running. He tried pole vault for the first time as a freshman, and it became his favorite event because it involves so many different aspects of the sport: running, jumping and proper body positioning.
Lugo has only matched the 13 feet he reached in the pole vault last season, but that's because it conflicts with the 400. When Golden cut back on the workload last season, Lugo surged from fourth in sectionals at 12 feet to 13 feet and a third-place finish in regionals. He qualified for state, but didn't complete a jump.
"I would say the pole vault (is his best event)," Golden said. "(He hasn't topped 13 feet) because he has a couple of events under his belt by the time he gets to the higher jumps. Once he starts resting more later in the tournament he's going to have some solid pole vault performances."
Golden makes sure Lugo doesn't get burned out at practice. A volunteer coach comes in Mondays and Wednesdays to work with the pole vaulters from 6 to 8 p.m. and Lugo doesn't go to the earlier team practice. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays -- depending on the meet schedule -- he works with the 400-meter runners.
Lugo, who is among the top 25 students at Hamilton Southeastern, according to Golden, and also earns praise for his leadership of an inexperienced team, will attend Purdue and is considering walking on to the track team, especially if he improves in the pole vault or the 400 (his best time is 51.61 seconds) over the final month of the season.
Since he's also capable of competing at the varsity level in the 100, 200, 300 hurdles and long jump, Golden believes Lugo could have success in the decathlon at the next level. For now, however, no matter how many events he competes in, there's only one thing on his mind.
"State, that's what I'm looking for," he said. "I want to make it to state in the pole vault, the 4 by 100 is looking good and I may do that in sectionals. The 4 by 400, we all need to get our times down and we'll see how other teams do. I want to go to state and see my teammates join me."
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