Metamora High School boys track

Tom Batters
Charles Fenner

Ron Knaub might want to make a copy of the record book — before his name gets erased from it.

Knaub holds the Metamora High School record in the pole vault. He soared 15’1” over the bar in 2004.

Senior Charles Fenner, a two-time state finals qualifier, is about to break that record.

“I’ll break it,” Fenner said at practice last week. “That’s one of my goals. I’m getting close.”

Fenner attempted 15’1” at a meet a couple weeks ago, but he came up just a little short.

Then there is his other, much loftier, goal:

Win a state title.

Last year’s state-winning mark was 14’6” (by Brandon Carrel of Urbana). Fenner has already eclipsed that mark this season.

Carrel and four of the other top 10 competitors from last year’s state finals are back, though, so winning the title won’t be easy.

Fenner, who qualified for state, but did not make the final round last year after finishing 11th in the state as a sophomore in 2010, said he is committed to raising the bar.

“I’ve put a lot of work into it,” he said. “I’d love to end my high school career as a state champion.”

The practice regiment, especially perfecting the precise technique, is constant. You better know what you’re doing. One slip could bring devastating (and painful) consequences.

“I’ve been rejected from the pole many times,” he said. “One time, the pole bent back and shot me about 20 feet from the mat, into the metal pit. That hurt a little.”

Fenner said he is constantly trying to perfect the shoulder movements that are necessary to exert the highest amount of force as the pole hits the ground. He also runs sprints every day in practice to help maintain the fastest runway speed.

“If you’re not fast enough, you won’t get as much power into the jump,” he said.

Fenner started the pole vault in seventh grade.

“It just looked like it would be fun, so I decided to try it,” he said. “I’ve always liked trying sports that not too many other people wanted to try ... I did gymnastics as a kid, so I was pretty good at getting my body to move around, and I knew what it was like to fall on a mat.”

He learned much of his technique on the fly at meets and at summer track and field camps.

By the time he entered high school, Fenner had become a serious pole vaulter who worked year round on his craft.

He finished 11th in the state as a sophomore, but he said he was “really disappointed” when he did not make it past the preliminary round at the state meet last year.

“I don’t know. Maybe I was a little nervous, but that wasn’t my best day,” he said. “I’m focused this year. I want to get back there, and I want to make a run at a state title.”

Fenner began this season with a 14’6” vault Feb. 24 at the Steve Coffman Invitational at Knox College.

That mark was good enough to qualify for the Illinois Prep Top Times state indoor meet, which is March 24 at Illinois Wesleyan University. Adam Parr (400-meter run) and Jack Freidrich (shot put) also qualified.

Metamora will compete in the Sterling Indoor Invite Saturday. The Redbirds’ home opener is April 7 (Metamora Co-Ed Invite at 10 a.m.)