In last year’s Monterey Bay League Track and Field Trials, Peter Reikowski was in street clothes and on crutches, wondering what could’ve been. The San Benito High senior was having an outstanding season until he suffered a severely sprained right ankle that forced him to miss the last third of the season.
Healthy again and motivated, the 6-foot-1, 160-pound Reikowski has plans to go higher than he’s ever gone before. Reikowski hit a personal-record (PR) of 13 feet, 6 inches two times in a span of three days last season, in a three-way league meet on April 5 and in the Don Bell Quicksilver Classic three days later.
A week later in the Bill Kearney Invitational, Reikowski came down awkwardly on his right ankle on his landing while attempting 13-3. Just like that, Reikowski’s season was done, as he wasn’t able to suit up for the Trials a month later.
“I thought I could recover for league and make it to CCS, but by the time the Trials came around, I was still hobbling,” he said.
It was a devastating blow for Reikowski, who only took up pole vaulting in his freshman year after watching his older brother, Matt, star for the track and field team. For Peter Reikowski, a return to form was anything but a foregone conclusion. Pole vaulting isn’t for the faint of heart, especially after one suffers an injury like Reikowski did.
“The idea of losing my entire senior year due to injury really scared me and kind of kept me on the ground for a little while,” he said. “But after a certain point, I thought it was better to get off the ground and maybe lose a season rather than not taking off at all and having no season whatsoever.”
Once Reikowski got healthy last summer, he started working with renowned pole vaulting coach Joe Miyoshi in the Santa Cruz area. The once a week sessions helped Reikowski regain his confidence and shore up some of his technical aspects of the sport he needed work on. Reikowski was going skyward again—and not a moment too soon.
“It would’ve been hard to start this season had I not got to vault for him in the summer,” Reikowski said. “He helped me get through the head games I had after the injury. Pole vaulting is a really mentally taxing event, and mentally it took a long time to recover from the injury.”
Reikowski is now in a place where he feels comfortable taking off the ground, jumping and not having the fear of reinjuring himself. Mentally, he’s in a much better place than he’s been in a long time. Reikowski is still feeling his way into the pole vault this season, as he’s gone 10-6 and 12-6 on two occasions in the first three meets of the season. It’s still early, and that’s why Reikowski said his goal is to hit 14-6 or 15 feet by the end of the season. Reikowski’s brother, Matt, had a PR of 14 feet in his senior year in the CCS Semifinals.
“I’m feeling confident again,” said Peter, who just got accepted to Cal Poly.
Reikowski will major in animal science with the goal of starting a ranching business “or something of that sort.” Reikowski was raised in one of the most remote parts of San Benito County, five miles from Pinnacles National Park.
“I grew up in the middle of nowhere,” he said.
Reikowski attended Jefferson School, and his eighth grade graduating class had a grand total of three students—himself included. One can only imagine how Reikowski felt upon entering San Benito High, which at 3,000-plus students is one of the largest in the Central Coast Section.
“It was pretty crazy,” he said. “I was not prepared at all for the start of my freshman year. I went from a school of 17, maybe 18 kids and then all of a sudden I show up on the first day at San Benito with a class of 700 freshmen. I was like, ‘Wow, what is this?’”
Like all athletic disciplines, pole vaulting requires a tremendous amount of technique. Reikowski is trying to work his way up to using a bigger and longer pole, as it will help him launch up in the air. He’s also building up his strength and speed while using the pole.
“It is about form and how technical I can get,” he said.
In addition to Miyoshi, Reikowski also credits San Benito jumps coach Eddie Valencia for helping him develop and improve with each successive season.
“Coach Valencia has worked wonders with me,” he said. “He’s a really good and dedicated coach, and is helping all the athletes go as high as they can possibly go.”
Reikowski has displayed the resolve and determination necessary in order to progress and potentially reach his goal of a big PR and a place on the podium at the CCS Championships. In fact, he displayed some of that grit immediately after he got hurt.
“When I got injured, my first thought was, ‘Hmm, I wonder when I can pole vault next,’” he said.
Reikowski has gone skyward again, intent on going higher than ever before.