August Kiles: Pole Vaulter Extraordinaire

LIFTOFF%3A+Junior+August+Kiles+has+already+broken+the+school+record+for+pole+vaulting%2C+at+15%E2%80%99+7%E2%80%9D%2C+and+is+expected+to+break+the+MCAL+record+this+season.+Photo+by%3A+Isaac+Cohen
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August Kiles: Pole Vaulter Extraordinaire

LIFTOFF: Junior August Kiles has already broken the school record for pole vaulting, at 15’ 7”, and is expected to break the MCAL record this season. Photo by: Isaac Cohen

LIFTOFF: Junior August Kiles has already broken the school record for pole vaulting, at 15’ 7”, and is expected to break the MCAL record this season. Photo by: Isaac Cohen

Photographer: Alexander J. Cohen

LIFTOFF: Junior August Kiles has already broken the school record for pole vaulting, at 15’ 7”, and is expected to break the MCAL record this season. Photo by: Isaac Cohen

Photographer: Alexander J. Cohen

Photographer: Alexander J. Cohen

LIFTOFF: Junior August Kiles has already broken the school record for pole vaulting, at 15’ 7”, and is expected to break the MCAL record this season. Photo by: Isaac Cohen

By Cody Duane-McGlashan

LIFTOFF: Junior August Kiles has already broken the school record for pole vaulting, at 15’ 7”, and is expected to break the MCAL record this season. Photo by: Isaac Cohen

LIFTOFF: Junior August Kiles has already broken the school record for pole vaulting, at 15’ 7”, and is expected to break the MCAL record this season. Photo by: Isaac Cohen

Three seconds of an all out sprint, the pole bends, and then he’s over. Junior August Kiles is a natural athlete. Already, at age 17, he has broken the school record for pole vaulting with a flawless 15’ 7”. Pole vaulting, which combines speed and agility, seems like the perfect sport for Kiles, who was previously a gymnast and runner.

Kiles is quiet and modest, and it takes some prodding to get him to discuss his own achievements. He focuses most of his attention on vaulting, and doesn’t have much time for other hobbies, but has a love for math and plays the piano. “I really like to hike on Mt. Tam and explore new trails,” he said.

Kiles has pursued pole vaulting since he discovered it in 6th grade, and hopes to continue through college. “It’s the one thing I know for sure about college…I want to go to [a] D1 [school] and compete,” said Kiles, “and ideally I would like to be able to support myself for a few years after college as a pole-vaulter.” Although this would be a fantasy for many, for Kiles it is reality. “I have dialogues going on with a few colleges,” Kiles said.

One thing that differentiates Kiles from some other star athletes is his academic aptitude. “For 8th grade I did a homeschool year where I took two classes at Tam and the rest either online or at home,” he said. Because of this, Kiles has finished the Spanish curriculum at Tam along with AP Calculus BC and is now taking French, multivariable calculus and honors physics.

He even describes the role speed plays in the pole vaulting using terms commonly heard in a physics class. “The more kinetic energy you have, the more you convert it into potential energy,” he said. Because of this need for speed, Kiles increases his power by lifting weights and sprinting. The other component to improving in pole vaulting is technique. To do this, Kiles utilizes a mix of gymnastics exercises and simply pole vaulting.

Kiles began keeping videos of his vaults a year and a half ago to help him with technique. “I can go and watch almost any jump I’ve taken,” he said.

Kiles generally performs well in competitions, but says the competition in MCAL isn’t totally equal. “There’s not really anyone else in MCALs who’s been doing the pole vault for as long as I have or focuses on it as much as I have, so it’s not really a good comparison,” he said. He does, however, compete in another season during the summer that can be more competitive.

IN FLIGHT: August Kiles sails clear over the bar during a meet at Marin Catholic on March 27. Photo by: Isaac Cohen

IN FLIGHT: August Kiles sails clear over the bar during a meet at Marin Catholic on March 27. Photo by: Isaac Cohen

Despite his talents on the track and in the classroom, Kiles doesn’t seem to have problems managing his time. “I always make sure I have all my classwork done in time for track,” he said.