MALE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR RUNNER-UP: Pole Vaulter Leads Squad by Example

Weiler reaches new heights on the track and

Karen L. Ding

Rookie Nico Weiler dominated the pole vault, setting a personal best of 5.20 meters and collecting titles at IC4A’s and HYP.

Freshman Nico Weiler has been a winner all of his life. But unlike some people, winning only makes this outstanding pole vaulter work that much harder.

“A lot of what makes Nico so successful is just how competitive he is,” Harvard coach Jason Saretsky said. “He doesn’t like to lose. I think Indoor Heps was the first time that he had lost in three years.”

A winner in the 2007 and 2008 California state championships and an Under-18 World Champion, Weiler brought his pole vaulting pedigree to Harvard and the Ivy League, where he has dominated the competition since the beginning of the indoor season.

The accolades for Weiler have already begun to accumulate in mass numbers, as the talented freshman won the IC4A Indoor Championship, the Battle of Beantown, the HYP meet, and qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships with a jump of 5.20 meters, which was good enough second-best in Crimson history.

“Mentally, he’s got a great approach,” Saretsky said. “He has an unbelievable ability to perform the best when it matters the most.”

As successful as he has been this season, Weiler continues to remain disappointed with his performance at the Indoor Heps—a clear indication of his competitiveness as an athlete. For many, his second-place finish would have been a great accomplishment, but for Weiler, there is no such thing as a moral victory.

“A couple competitions indoors didn’t go as I wanted them to go,” Weiler said. “I definitely hope I can get a solid foundation next year.”

“His competitive nature is a testament to the talent that he has and how hard he works to be the athlete that is,” Saretsky said. “Freshman year is always that transition and making those adjustments. He learned a lot about what it’s going to take to realize his potential.”

Not surprisingly, Weiler found the most difficult transition from high school to college to be off the field. Like most freshmen, he saw his sleeping hours reduced to a mere three or four hours.

“Probably the biggest problem I had in the first semester was sleep,” Weiler said. “It didn’t really reflect well on the track. That might be a reason why I was injured in the beginning of the indoor season with a hamstring injury.”

But as Weiler slowly adjusted to college life, he began to see successful results in the pole vault. By the time the outdoor season came around, Weiler was jumping better than ever, winning week after week. In fact, he posted his highest jump of the year, 5.30 meters, at the prestigious Drake Relays.

But Weiler doesn’t just attribute more sleep and settling into college life as the key to his success.

“The important thing is that every coach in pole vault has different views, and it’s always great to hear those views, because everybody has something right for me,” Weiler said. “Pole vault can’t be done just one way; it’s very flexible. The coach here [at Harvard] is great; I have a lot of fun.”

With just one meet to go—the NCAA Outdoors Championship—Weiler will look to end his freshman season on a even stronger note, setting the stage for a potentially record-breaking sophomore season. But the humble Weiler realizes that he still has a lot more to learn before cementing his status as one of the Crimson greats in the pole vault.

“I want to be faster, be stronger, jump higher,” Weiler said. “I’ll just do my best; we’ll see how it goes.”

—Staff writer Kevin T. Chen can be reached at