Sometimes, Matt Petz will grab the pole and simply show his Bend High pole vaulters a certain movement or technique that he has been trying to teach them.
“He’ll try something that we’ve been working on for years and he’ll do it and say, ‘It’s that easy,’ ” says Matt’s son, Brady Petz. “Which it’s not.”
The Petz name has become synonymous with pole vaulting in Central Oregon. Matt Petz, 41, won three state titles at La Pine High School from 1995 to 1997. His nephew, Justin Petz, won a record four Class 4A state titles for La Pine from 2013 to 2016.
Brady Petz, a Bend High senior, is now gunning for his third consecutive pole vault state championship, this time in Class 6A, to match his father. And his sophomore sister and teammate, Taylor Petz, is aiming for her second straight state title in the pole vault.
“It’s easier to argue with him,” Brady Petz says of his father and coach. “I’m not going to argue with (head Bend track) coach Lisa Nye as much. It’s great. It’s awesome to have my dad out every day with me. He’s easy to listen to, I think, because I kind of know he knows more than I do.”
Brady Petz currently has the second-best pole vault mark in the state (15 feet, 6 inches) behind Simon Seung Park of South Eugene (16-9). He says he is hoping at some point this season to break his father’s personal best of 16-7.
“I’ve never really had an actual goal,” says Brady, who has been pole vaulting since sixth grade. “I’ve always just tried to jump as high as I can every time. So I think, when he told me about it (his father’s personal best), that was when I wanted to try to go for that.”
Matt Petz says that 16-7 is “easily within reach” for his son.
“He’s been close to around 17 feet these last couple meets,” Matt says. “So if we just get everything just right it’s going to be a piece of cake for him.”
Vaulting higher than Park to win his third straight state title might be more of a challenge for Brady than beating his father’s mark.
“He can be a little inconsistent, which can work to Brady’s advantage,” Matt Petz says of Park. “But they’re neck and neck. It’s going to be close.”
For the last 21⁄2 years, Brady has been dealing with a broken scaphoid in his left wrist suffered in a football game his sophomore year. He has undergone three surgeries — in the most recent surgery doctors removed bone from his left knee to repair the deteriorated bone in his wrist. He has been in and out of a cast on his wrist for the last two years.
Last season he was in a cast until about a week before districts. He managed to qualify for state and then go on to win the state title. A couple days after state, he was back in a cast. He got his most recent cast removed in February.
“We’re kind of just now getting back on track and caught up,” Matt Petz says. “But to see where he’s at physically and the way he’s jumping now, I’m super impressed.”
Because of the surgeries and the lingering injuries, Brady Petz is unsure if he will compete in the pole vault in college. Instead, he says he is looking at commercial diving schools to possibly pursue a career in underwater welding.
“I haven’t been thinking about track as much,” Brady Petz says. “I’m still open to that. It really depends on how this year plays out. With my wrist and my knee, pole vaulting is so hard on everything I just don’t know if I want to keep doing it.”
But Brady continues to perfect his technique with his father. He says he is working to get his body more inverted and locking his shoulders to clear the bar.
Matt Petz says that because the discipline is so technical, pole vaulters are “always learning.”
“You’re constantly improving but there are moments like, ‘Oh, I get it,’ and then you’ll have an increase,” Matt says.
Matt Petz coaches several other solid pole vaulters at Bend High as well, including Wade Jacobus, who is tied for the fourth-highest mark in the state this season (14-6).
Matt’s daughter Taylor says she is hoping to post a mark of 12 feet or higher. She is currently tied with teammate Siera Crawford for the 10th-highest mark in the state this season (11-6).
“It’s really special to me, because it’s just like our family thing, our family event,” Taylor Petz says of the pole vault. “It’s really nice, because my dad pushes me harder than a normal coach would. He’ll tell me if it’s bad and what I need to work on, so that helps a lot. I’m really close with him. He knows how to explain stuff to me and he knows how I learn.
“It also really helps to have good pole vaulters to help push me. We all kind of push each other.”
Members of the Petz pole vaulting family agree that they feel some pressure to live up to the family name.
“Just because of the past,” Matt Petz says. “It’s like we have to keep the standards high, literally.”
Adds Brady: “It definitely does motivate me. It sets high standards for me and I want to try to break my dad’s records.”
— Reporter: 541-383-0318,