Matthew Moore started as a distance runner then learned to fly … as a pole vaulter and sprinter.
The White Plains High School senior just vaulted 13 feet, 6 inches at last week’s Alabama High School Athletic Association indoor track championships. The only vaulter to beat him, Winfield’s Walker Junkin, set a state record at 14-8 then broke it at 15-4.
It was Moore’s third second-place finish at the 4A-5A level, twice in indoor and once at last year’s outdoor championships. He hopes to win a state championship in the outdoor season, but his top goal more a number than a trophy.
He’s also his school’s decathlete and looks to do the same at the University of Montevallo.
When he’s not defying gravity, he’s playing music at Golden Springs Baptist Church. He likes a good comedy or scary movie.
He took a few minutes to vault into 10 questions from Star Sports Writer Joe Medley:
Question: Congrats for your second-place finish at state. What was that competition like?
Answer: First jump, I scratched at my opening height of 12-foot-6. I normally do, every once in a while, scratch my opening height, so I figured it out and jumped good at 12-6. I cleared it and moved on to 13, cleared that then moved on to 13-6, cleared that. Everything was feeling good, and it felt like a perfect day to get a PR, but I got a little tired after clearing 13-6. My 14-foot jump looked good. I was up and over but came down on it first time. Second time, my center was too close, and I hit it on the way up. Third time was just a bad plant, so everything didn’t feel right on that last one. Other than that, it was a good day. I really enjoyed watching Walker jump, too, and set the record.
Q: For those who have never done pole vault, how do you get over the counterintuitive nature of trusting a pole to help you defy gravity?
A: It’s very difficult. Everybody’s like, “Oh that looks cool. It looks easy,” but it’s not. It goes against everything your body is telling you to do. It’s not natural to just run with a pole, stab it in the ground and jump with it. It’s been fun, since I started jumping. It took me a year to clear my first height. Since then, it’s just been addictive. I want to go higher. I’ve been doing it since eighth grade.
Q: You started as a distance runner. What has your evolution to explosive jumps and sprints been like?
A: I ran the two-mile and the mile and the 4x8 (800-meter relay) as a seventh-grader. In eighth grade, he (father and coach John Moore) said try this pole vault thing. I was like, ‘Yeah, OK, I’ll try.’ I started doing that and stopped running as much. I still ran the 4x8 and did pole vault, and those were the only two things I did. Then, sophomore year, I guess I just kind of developed. My hamstrings developed, or something, and I turned into somewhat of a sprinter. Junior year, I turned into a little more of a sprinter, and now I’m in the 100 meter, 200 meter 400. I’m in the 4x4, pole vault, do the long jump. I do the 100. I can do the javelin, throw discus, high jump, shot put. I’m our school decathlete, so every practice, I try to do something different.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish in the outdoor season?
A: Honestly, I want to win a state championship. That’s a goal, but it’s not the main goal. My main goal is to jump five meters, which is around, roughly, 16-4.
Q: What's the best piece of advice you've gotten from a teacher or a coach?
A: I had a coach tell me that track was not a sport, and it really motivated me to become better.
Q: What's something about you that few people know?
A: I can sing and play bass guitar. It’s worship music, but I’ve learned a couple of old ‘80s songs rock songs. I’ve learned “Back in Black,” “Walking on Sunshine,” though that’s not really a rock song and Seven Nation Army. I’m learning “Welcome to the Jungle” right now.
Q: What movie are you most looking forward to seeing?
A: Probably either “Black Panther” or another one. I can’t remember a name of it, but they can’t make any noise. It’s scary, and I like scary movies.
Q: If you could be any animal, what would you be?
A: Probably a falcon. I like to fly. That’s why I do pole vault, maybe.
Q: What's one movie you never get tired of watching?
A: Hot Rod is a dumb kind of funny, like Will Ferrell-type movies. I love those type movies.
Q: Who on your team is most likely to become famous one day?
A: Savannah Yates (White Plains pole vaulter). She’s going to be an Olympian. She’s jumping 10-foot as a freshman. She’s got room to grow.