By Whitney Metz —
Forest Flynn, a Northampton High School graduate and junior at George Mason University, won the Atlantic 10 pole vault championship Saturday, May 7, at the conference championship meet held at Virginia Commonwealth University.
The conditions were terrible, featuring gusting winds, rain, and cold temperatures. Flynn jumped 14’-10”, as did three other vaulters, but he took the win because he had no misses at lower heights. Flynn and his teammate Decker Barboreck, consider themselves “mudders” and used the poor conditions as a benefit. The two prepared for the tournament throughout the week, practicing outside in the cold and windy conditions.
Flynn has a good track record in bad weather. He won the states his junior year in an all-day downpour, and as a senior won the prestigious Lee Davis Relays during a wicked crosswind that interfered with the other vaulters. Growing up on the Shore, he’s learned to handle a little wind and rain.
Since COVID-19 started in 2020, this is the first full indoor and outdoor year that Flynn has completed. Last year, he competed in six meets. This year, Flynn competed in 13 meets both indoors and outdoors. Flynn finished second at the Atlantic 10 Indoor Championship with a jump of 15’-3”. He jumped a career best 15’-7.5” at home at the Patriot Games. He also got to jump at some great venues: Virginia Military Institute, James Madison University, the Naval Academy, Boston University, the Colonial Relays at William & Mary, and at North Carolina State for the Raleigh Relays.
“This accomplishment means so much to me,” Flynn said. “It’s one of my proudest moments. I transferred to George Mason University last year and struggled to find my footings. I knew I was a better athlete than I had showed and I was going to prove it. This year, at the Atlantic 10 indoor conference championship, I placed second. I was happy but knew I could do more. I had struggles and setbacks and a very frustrating outdoor season, so winning the conference championship was a perfect end to a long season.”
When asked about his motivation throughout his journey, Flynn stated there were a few things motivating him.
“I would remind myself who I was and where I was from,” he said. “I always told myself that it’s easy to quit when times get tough, but it takes a fierce spirit to stick through the tough times and I had an incredible support system from my family, friends, and teammates. I think I called my mom and dad several times a day just to talk about my thoughts or relieve stress.”
Flynn also had a few words of encouragement for the younger generation of athletes on the Eastern Shore. “I feel like it’s common to hear that it’s hard to get off the Shore and it’s hard to have lots of opportunities because of where we are,” he said.
Flynn said, “I know I heard it when I was in high school. I’d like the young athletes to know that you absolutely can get recruited off of the Eastern Shore. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication, but a college education and the opportunity to keep doing what you enjoy at a higher level is worth it. The more important thing is you have to recruit yourself. It won’t be like what you see on TV, coaches don’t really see the Eastern Shore. You have to send coaches your own stats and videos to get noticed. Recruit yourself!”