Brian Glock didn't have a clue he'd be pole vaulting when he enteredMeade High School as a freshman.
After being cut from the Mustangs' junior varsity baseball team that spring, Glock wandered over to the school's track to take a swing at the mile run.
"I wanted to be a miler, and not being famous for listening or paying much attention, I just followed a group out onto the track," thesenior explained. "When I got down there, I knew a couple of the pole vaulters, and I said, 'Let me try.'
"I was a little husky at thetime, and one of them said, 'Don't you think you're a little bit big?' After bugging them the entire day, someone said, 'Here, shut up and try.' So, I did."
Three years and a couple of ankle sprains later, Glock has emerged as the county's top pole vaulter.
His vault of 12-6 at the county indoor track meet earned him an individual county title, but was not enough to lift Meade's boys team in its quest for a fifth straight county championship, as the runner-up Mustangs (79) relinquished their crown to Old Mill (105).
"We're expecting bigthings out of Brian, but we'll miss the Millers," Meade coach Jay Cuthbert said in the preseason, referring to departed twins Jeff and Eric Miller. "We only have two feet to fill four shoes, so that's a bighole to fill."
At last year's county indoor track meet, the Mustangs picked up 24 team points in the pole-vaulting competition, with Jeff and Eric Miller claiming first and second place, respectively, and Glock capturing third with a vault of 12-6.
With the Millers offto school at Cedarville College in Columbus, Ohio, Glock finds himself alone. And while he enjoys his new role as "the man to beat," he admits feeling a squeeze in their absence.
"There's a lot more pressure on me now that they're gone," he said. "People expect a lot moreout of me now. Before, it was Miller vs. Miller, and now its, 'Come on Brian, you've got to do this.'
"The Millers were both a big support, and they both helped me a lot. What I learned from them most ofall was patience. A lot of times, I would get really frustrated whenI missed and would start yelling and screaming, and they'd just takeme off to the side and calm me down."
Much of Glock's recent success can be attributed to his support system, which still includes Cuthbert, assistant coach Randy Miller and Catonsville Community Collegecoach Mike Carroll.
Because Meade's gymnasium is not equipped with a vaulting box, Glock travels with his 14-foot Sky Pole and newly acquired 15-foot Spirit pole to Catonsville twice a week to use the facilities.
Although Carroll has only worked with Glock sporadicallyover the past few years, he has seen enough of him to notice his potential.
"He's got the tools right now to be a state champion," said Carroll, who should know, having raised a pair of state champions in sons Michael (1987) and Danny (1990). "Pole vaulting is such a high-skilled, quirky event that on any given day he could get no height or he could set a personal record. It's a psychological game."
Glock realizes that. And he also realizes that with his size (5-foot-11, 180 pounds) and strength, he should have no trouble matching his personal best of 13-4.
"My motivation is just to go higher and higher and always beat myself," he said. "I want to see where my limit actually is, or see if there actually is one. I think I have the potentialto go a lot higher, but I'm kind of in a little rut right now.
"Sometimes I have bad days where I'm afraid to stick it in and go for it, but usually, when it comes down to a meet and the bar goes up, I can do it again."
Cuthbert shares Glock's confidence and believes that with the athlete's power and technical skills -- and the necessary dose of luck -- he should come out on top at the regional and statemeets.
"He's big and strong, and when he comes down the runway, he looks like a runaway truck," said Cuthbert. "He has a lot of force,and when he transfers it to the pole, he does real well."
Carrollagreed, adding, "The greatest vaulters in the world are big, strong people. Brian is not overly fast, but he's fast enough to move that mass."
With nine county schools and three additional schools -- Queen Anne's, LaPlata and Northern of Calvert -- competing in Wednesday's regional meet at the Fifth Regiment Armory, Glock is going to have to "move that mass" if he hopes to emerge victorious.
Regardless of how he fares at the regions and states, Glock still is glad he decided to venture to the pole-vaulting pit as a freshman that spring.
"It's good that I started pole vaulting," he said, jokingly, "because I couldn't run a mile to save my life."