Monday, May 17, 2021

Sports Person of the Week

Salib Vaults to Great Heights in Guilford


Recent graduate Mark Salib turned in a solid senior season as a pole vaulter for the Guilford boys’ outdoor track team. At the end of the campaign, Mark was presented with the Indians’ Coaches’ Award. Photo courtesy of Mark Salib

Recent graduate Mark Salib turned in a solid senior season as a pole vaulter for the Guilford boys’ outdoor track team. At the end of the campaign, Mark was presented with the Indians’ Coaches’ Award. (Photo courtesy of Mark Salib )

Mark Salib fell in love with track and field when he joined the boys’ outdoor track team at Guilford High School during his freshman year. Mark’s passion for the sport provided a spark that helped him reach new heights with the Indians, including a stellar sendoff season as a senior.

Mark competed for Guilford’s indoor and outdoor track teams, before he graduated from the high school this year. In his final campaign with the outdoor team, Mark cleared a height of 11 feet in the pole vault and also received the Coaches’ Award on behalf of Head Coach George Cooksey’s squad.

“A big help was definitely George Cooksey and how he pushed us to do our workouts,” says Mark. “The other pole vaulters also pushed me to do better with trying to clear new heights. All of my teammates really made track so much fun.”

In terms of his technique, Mark says the biggest factor behind his success in the pole vault was his ability to visualize his motions, while taking everything one movement at a time.

“I just get on the runway and picture everything in my head. I picture all of the training and what it’s supposed to look like with the vault,” says Mark. “I step up and just focus on one thing at a time, and the rest comes to me because of muscle memory.”

Mark knew that he had to bulk up at the outset of his track and field career. Mark started working in the gym and doing strength training, thus bolstering his abilities when it came time to go airborne in the vault.

“I was very weak and small as a freshman, so I didn’t attempt the vault, and I tried to do different things to get a feel for what I could do,” Mark says. “I started working out more and fell in love with the pole vault. The pole vault helped me in the weight room and vice versa. Mentally, it was just about knowing what I was going for and what I want to get out of it. Having that end goal in mind helps me.”

Mark had to teach himself the ways of the pole vault throughout the majority of his high school career. However, after working with a mentor later on, Mark became even more diligent in his preparation and started lending a hand to his teammates as they tried out the event.

“We never had a pole vault coach until [assistant coach] James Petritz. Before then, I was doing things on my own and watching online videos and comparing myself to the professionals,” says Mark. “From that, I was able to help others with what to do and let them attempt the vault.”

Coach Cooksey says that Mark’s dedication to success really paid off during his senior season. Cooksey adds that Mark not only shined as an athlete, but also as a leader this year.

“What transformed Mark’s pole vaulting career was his decision to fully commit himself to the sport. He spent the fall of his senior year attending vaulting clinics, the indoor season honing his technique, and arrived for the outdoor season committed to excellence,” Cooksey says. “He also became a vocal leader on the team who led drills and exercises for the younger athletes daily. Mark became a player-coach. His leadership by word and example inspired us all to strive to achieve our best as coaches and athletes.”

Looking back on his time with Guilford track, Mark learned a lot about the importance of the team dynamic in a sport that’s based on individual results. Along the way, Mark also became a more well-rounded person who figured out how to tackle multiple responsibilities at once.

“Track is not known to be a team sport, but it really is. You have to know your team and cheer them on, and they can really push you,” says Mark. “It was great to be a part of this team, because it gave me a drive through loving it so much. It also helped me learn time management skills.”

John Lecardo covers sports for Guilford, Madison, and Haddam-Killingworth for Zip06. Email John at

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