The best way for Olentangy Liberty High School senior Chris Uhle to keep his head out of the clouds is to keep his feet on the ground.

The best way for Olentangy Liberty High School senior Chris Uhle to keep his head out of the clouds is to keep his feet on the ground.

Uhle, who set the Division I state pole vault record last spring while winning the state title by clearing 16 feet, 9 inches, has spent a lot of his time this fall doing distance runs with the boys cross country team.

Uhle has finished in the top 10 in all of Liberty's meets so far this season, with his best showing being a sixth-place finish in 17 minutes, 19 seconds at the Delaware County Classic on Sept. 8.

Pole vaulting and distance running might appear to be about as similar as wrestling and golf, but Uhle thinks success in one often carries over to the other.

"I'm working a different set of muscles," he said. "A coach was telling me once that pole vaulting trains you in all areas. It takes a combination of agility, endurance because you have to jump over and over again, strength and jumping ability."

Uhle could have quite a career ahead of him in the decathlon. In addition to pole vaulting and distance running, Uhle established himself as a decent middle-distance runner last spring. He won the 800 meters title at the OCC-Cardinal Division meet (2:02) and placed 14th in the state (2:00.07), behind champion Jake Hiltner of Wadsworth (1:51.15).

However, Uhle is usually the third finisher for the cross country team, behind senior Jim Pappas and freshman Andrew Johnston.

"Chris has battled through some injuries that have kind of slowed him down, but he's a competitor," coach Jared Mills said. "He ran cross country for the first time last year and I feel like he came back for two reasons. One is he wanted to be a leader out there, and he has been a leader more than just in his performance.

"Secondly, he has that drive to help us as a team. He feels like he has a lot more to prove (in cross country)."

Uhle and the Patriots hope they can continue to prove themselves as they gear up for the postseason. Liberty competed in a number of smaller meets at the beginning of the season but will run at the Midwest Meet of Champions on Saturday at Hilliard Darby and the Les Eisenhart Invitational on Oct. 9 at Thomas Worthington before competing in the OCC-Cardinal meet Oct. 16 at Darby.

Liberty is looking to win the league championship this season after placing second the last three years. Last season, the Patriots scored 63 points to finish behind Westerville North (47) and ahead of Westerville Central (65), Westerville South (81), Dublin Jerome (108), Olentangy (164), Dublin Scioto (183) and Marysville (194).

The one difference between running cross country and competing in the pole vault is Uhle has not had to compete against his twin brother, Joey. Last spring, the two traded setting the state record in the pole vault. Joey won OCC, district and regional titles, with Chris finishing second at all three meets.

Chris tried to get Joey to come out for cross country this year, but after doing a couple training runs, Joey decided against it.

"I think he would've done really well in cross country because we're built exactly like each other," Chris said. "It's different not having him here. Joey and I were always pushing each other and making each other better."


At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Liberty, Olentangy and Orange boys and girls cross country teams:

LIBERTY

Aug. 28 - Boys: Finished first (16) at seven-team Lexington Invitational; Girls: Finished eighth (173) at eight-team Panther Division of Pickerington Classic at Pickerington North, behind champion New Albany (38)

Sept. 4 - Boys: Finished second (57) at nine-team Olentangy Indian Caverns Invitational, behind New Albany (51); Girls: Tied Orange for fifth (134) of eight teams, behind champion New Albany (32)

Sept. 8 - Boys: Finished first (31) at six-team Delaware County Classic; Girls: Finished third (73) of six teams, behind champion Olentangy (47)

Sept. 11 - Girls: Finished 15th (380) at 23-team McGowan Invitational at Watkins Memorial, behind champion New Albany (73)

Sept. 18 - Boys: Finished first (30) at 15-team Eaton Invitational; Girls: Finished 18th (452) at 28-team Galion Cross Country Festival, behind champion Toledo Notre Dame Academy (102)

Last Saturday - Boys: Finished second (53) at six-team Otterbein Invitational, behind champion Westerville Central (51); Girls: Finished seventh (176) at 12-team Bob Reall Invitational, behind champion Upper Arlington (48)

Saturday - Boys: Midwest Meet of Champions at Hilliard Darby; Girls: Erin L. Nance Fall Classic at London Country Club

Oct. 9 - Les Eisenhart Invitational at Thomas Worthington

Oct. 16 - OCC-Cardinal meet at Darby

OLENTANGY

Aug. 28 - Boys: Finished fourth (94) at nine-team Mount Vernon Invitational, behind champion Gahanna (55); Girls: Finished third (91) of eight teams, behind champion Upper Arlington (28)

Sept. 4 - Boys: Finished seventh (190) at Ashland Invitational, behind champion Pickerington North (45); Girls: Finished seventh (174), behind champion Amherst Steele (74)

Sept. 8 - Boys: Finished third (86) at Delaware County Classic; Girls: Finished first (47) of six teams

Sept. 18 - Boys: Finished 17th (436) at 29-team Galion Cross Country Festival, behind champion Cincinnati Elder (74); Girls: Finished 11th (338) of 28 teams

Last Saturday - Boys: Finished fourth (88) in seven-team Tiger Division of Tiger Invitational at Pickerington Central, behind Darby (58); Girls: Finished first (67) of seven teams

Saturday - Erin L. Nance Fall Classic at London Country Club

Oct. 9 - Johnstown Invitational

Oct. 16 - OCC-Cardinal meet at Darby

ORANGE

Aug. 28 - Boys: Finished 13th (356) in 19-team Panther Division of Pickerington Classic, behind champion West Chester Lakota West (102); Girls: Finished second (136) in 24-team Tiger Division, behind champion Kings Mills Kings (74)

Sept. 4 - Boys: Finished seventh (173) at Olentangy Indian Caverns Invitational; Girls: Tied Liberty for fifth (134)

Sept. 8 - Boys: Finished second (74) at Delaware County Classic; Girls: Finished fourth (77)

Sept. 11 - Boys: Finished 31st (879) at 41-team Tiffin Cross Country Carnival, behind champion Medina (137); Girls: Finished 28th (725) of 30 teams, behind champion Rocky River Magnificat (147)

Last Saturday - Boys: Finished first (40) in 16-team Bengal Division of Tiger Invitational at Pickerington Central. Danny Meyung (17:08.48) was second; Girls: Finished second (86) of 13 teams, behind Heath (54)

Saturday - Erin L. Nance Fall Classic at London Country Club

Oct. 9 - Les Eisenhart Invitational at Thomas Worthington

Oct 16 - OCC-Capital meet at Newark