Imagine waking up with a schedule that breaks down every hour of the day, a routine that must be strictly followed. School, practice, weight training, homework and sleep are all part of the equation, but so is training for the Olympics as Cal Poly’s best pole vaulter.
That routine doesn’t seem so bad now. Adrian Ruark knows this routine all too well.
A business administration senior, Ruark trains every day for his goal of reaching the 2008 or 2012 Olympics for pole vaulting. After a few injuries that set him back, Ruark won the Big West Championships over the weekend with a mark of 16-6 3/4 inches and has qualified for the NCAA West Regionals.
“(Pole vaulting) is individual and it’s extreme. It’s the most challenging sport in my opinion,” Ruark said.
Ruark’s highest jump to date was 16-11 inches, just over a foot short of the Olympic standard. With some training still needed to be done, his future is looking bright.
Last year he placed second in the Big West Championships and eighth at the NCAA West Regionals, missing the NCAA Championships by one height.
Ruark works to balance his classes with practice, and maintains a cumulative GPA of 3.72.
Currently enrolled in a pilates class, Ruark says that it helps keep smaller muscles stronger and helps with his flexibility. After injuring his shoulder from the constant impact of take-off, he had to maintain some type of yoga practice to avoid surgery.
“It was a compromise between my doctor and my surgeon,” Ruark said, on taking the pilates class.
Ruark started pole vaulting his freshman year of high school at Point Loma High in San Diego. There hadn’t been a pole vaulter in his school for the previous eight years, after another vaulter broke his neck and died while jumping. Ruark took up the challenge of initiating the sport again and soon others joined.
After graduation he attended Long Beach State under a track and field scholarship but following his first year realized that academically and athletically he would be happier at Cal Poly.
Ruark transferred to Cal Poly his sophomore year and red shirted the season. Now, considered a junior in the sport, he is prolonging his graduation date to compete once more.
After graduation he is planning on moving back to San Diego to train with Jon Takahashi, a Cal Poly alumnus who was the 2002 Big West pole vault champion, and also plans on studying for his Certified Public Accountant license.
Ruark’s goals after obtaining his CPA may involve moving to Austin, Texas, where his father lives, to get his master’s degree at the University of Texas and further his training toward his Olympic dream.
What about after his master’s degree?
“I might move to Japan,” Ruark said. “I’d like to live in Japan for a couple of years.”
Although he speaks no Japanese, he plans on beginning his courses here at Cal Poly next fall and is excited, but weary, of learning the diverse language.
As for his future, “I want to work on Wall Street after I get my finance masters,” he said, adding that he plans to live in New York.
In the little spare time that he has, Ruark finds himself catching up on sleep, ceramics and playing the guitar.
His favorite movies include The Boondock Saints, Pulp Fiction and Snatch. As for music, Ruark says he enjoys “everything except for polka.”
He loves San Luis Obispo for the weather and the great people, especially his team members, but coming from a bigger city in San Diego, the isolation of San Luis Obispo is getting to him.
“I’m not much of a small-town person so I’m going insane up here,” Ruark said.
Teammate Daniel Poyner looks up to Ruark as an athlete and a regular person, saying that Ruark always contributes help when needed.
“At first look he doesn’t seem like he would be an amazing athlete, but when you see him compete, he’s the biggest man on the field. He really wants to see other people succeed on and off the field,” Poyner said.