COLUMBUS GROVE — There’s a lot to be said about being surrounded by successful athletes.
While growing up in Columbus Grove and competing in track, Collin Grothaus witnessed Heath Nickles win three Division III state titles (two in the pole vault and one in the 300-meter hurdles). Nickles is now a senior at Ohio State and competes in track and field.
Then, Grothaus watched Tyler Wolfe (graduated in 2012) win a state title in the pole vault in 2011.
Last year, as a junior, Grothaus joined Wolfe at the Division III state meet in the pole vault. Grothaus vaulted 13 feet, 6 inches and finished seventh in his first state appearance. Wolfe, however, could not compete because of an injury he sustained the week leading up to the state meet.
However, this year, the three-sport athlete wants to do more than just qualify for the state meet. At the Columbus Grove Invitational on Friday, Grothaus won the pole vault with a height of 13-feet in very windy conditions. He missed 15-2 twice, which would have been the meet record.
“My best vault last year, before we went to the state meet, was 15 feet,” Grothaus said. “(At the state meet) I was a little disappointed.
“I definitely want to get back down there and I want to win it. …That’s my goal. My second goal is that I want to beat Heath Nickles’ (school) record of 16-1 ¼. I want to get at least 16-2. I want to get that school record. Of course, to win state is the main goal.”
Grothaus competes in two other sports. During the fall, he is the quarterback and safety on the football team. During the winter, he puts on the sneakers and leads the Bulldogs on the basketball court.
Upon graduation, Grothaus, who stands 5-10 and weighs 160 pounds, will attend Ohio Wesleyan University, where he will play football. However, he won’t rule out the possibility of extending his track career as well.
“I went there (Ohio Wesleyan) on a couple visits,” Grothaus said. “I saw their football program and I really liked it a lot. I love playing football and I love running track, too. So, I might do indoor (track) and I might do outdoor for them. I’m going to cross that bridge when it comes.”
Grothaus will play in next Saturday’s North-South Classic football game at the University of Dayton’s Welcome Stadium. He is on the Division IV-V-VI North roster.
Grothaus has been around track and field for a very long time. His father Chris is the head track coach at Columbus Grove.
“He gets on me a little bit on what to do and what to do better,” Grothaus said. “We have a lot of good coaches at each position. We have our pole vault coach, our hurdles coach and throws coach. Everything we do has a specific coach. All these coaches we have, makes this program really strong. So, he (his father) leaves a lot up to them. So, he’s not too hard on me.”
Pole vault is not the only event Grothaus competes in. He also excels in the 300-meter hurdles and some of the relays.
“After pole vault, I like to focus on the 300 hurdles. …It’s a race of toughness,” Grothaus said. “And then any relays that we can throw together to score some points, I’m up for.
“If you vault (at Columbus Grove), it’s almost expected that you hurdle. That’s the one thing we like to do. …The jumping and technique kind of goes together. So, every time we have a good vaulter, we turn him into a good hurdler.”
Grothaus’ father points to the tradition of pole vaulters as the key to the success of the program.
“It helps when you have Tyler (Wolfe) following Heath (Nickles) and now Collin following Tyler,” he said. “They came out here and learned from each other. Bob Baxter (longtime pole vault coach) does such a great job of coaching those guys. In my mind, he’s (Baxter) the best around at it.”
Results from the Columbus Grove Invitational were not available for Lima News deadline. See Sunday’s sports section for complete results.