By Brandon Judeh
During last year’s Pennsylvania state track and field championships in Shippensburg, Pa., Poland native and Shadyside Academy student Max Prizant was a ball of nerves and energy.
The junior’s adrenaline was pumping as he waited to participate in the pole vault competition, a sport he was relatively new at.
All eyes were on him, but probably not why you would think.
The thousands of spectators were probably focused on his green, red, yellow and tinsel lined fuzzy Christmas socks he was wearing.
“I pretty much just wore them as some sort of a good luck charm,” Prizant said. “I took some deep breaths and imagined it was practice, just with a few thousand people watching.”
Prizant took the leap of faith, 13 feet into the air, and on to the state podium as he finished in sixth place.
“I honestly didn’t expect to place, so to be able to stand up on the podium as a junior that was definitely a special feeling that I will never forget,” said Prizant, whose longest jump is 13 feet nine inches.
Making the feat even more special was the fact that Prizant didn’t start participating in pole-vaulting until his freshman year of high school when he was then attending Poland Seminary.
To sum it up, he went from the backyard to the podium.
“Max actually started with a PVC pipe in the mulch in our backyard so it’s really special for me to see how far he has come in such a short period of time,” said his father Ron Prizant. “He actually started in track and field when he was in seventhth grade, but he wasn’t as fast as his twin brother Zac so he decided to try pole vaulting.”
Ron, who got certified as a pole vault coach, has been his son’s biggest fan. He makes it out to all of his meets no matter where they may be.
“Without a doubt I wouldn’t be where I’m at without my dad, he is so supportive and has been a great coach for me. He has helped me reach that next level,” Prizant said.
As Prizant finishes out his senior season he will now be taking his talents to the next level and Division I school Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa.
That’s something the Poland native is looking forward to.
“There were several offers from other schools, but Bucknell had the total package. It’s a great facility and the academics are even better.”
But before he goes off to college he admits that he has a state championship in mind, especially after getting a taste of success during last season.
“A state championship is definitely in the back of my mind and has been since last season, it would mean so much to me especially how I started out in this sport in the backyard with my dad,” Prizant said. “To go from that to being a state champion would be amazing.”