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On Campus: Joe Wesley coming into his own for Akron Zips
Jan. 9, 2012 | Comments
Marine City's Joe Wesley clears the bar during the pole vault against St. Clair in 2008 at East China Stadium. / TIMES HERALD
By JOSEPH HAYES
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Joe Wesley said he is in the best shape of his life and is motivated for the task at hand.
The Akron University pole valuter and Marine City graduate hopes to qualify for the NCAA national championships during the upcoming indoor track and field season.
After spending the past months training, Wesley feels more prepared than ever before to accomplish his goals.
"I'm definitely healthy," Wesley said. "I have no injuries, and I'm feeling great. I'm training harder than ever. I feel good about this upcoming year."
Wesley, who redshirted his sophomore season because of the deep and talented Zips roster, is a senior academically, but a junior eligibility wise.
While it was hard to accept sitting out a year at the time, Wesley said he benefitted from the experience and is now prepared to take the next step in his career.
"I believe it was a good thing," Wesley said regarding redshirting.
"I was able to train harder and pick up on things. I worked on the little things, and I'm more mature now."
During the outdoor season, Wesley didn't feel he was at his best. But he placed fifth at the Mid-American Conference meet, while failing to qualify for nationals. He tied for first place overall last year at the MAC indoor championships at 16 feet, 8.75 inches.
"He had a good fall and trained well," Zips coach Dennis Mitchell said. "His practices have been very good. I feel like he's gaining the concept of what he needs to do.
"Sometimes in the outdoor season, you don't know what type of weather you will encounter. But he's looking good for the indoor season."
The Zips have consistently been one of the top teams in the MAC. They are the reigning indoor and outdoor conference champions.
Mitchell said he expects their reign to continue as long as athletes like Wesley develop.
"Our team is looking really good," coach Mitchell said. "I'm really pleased. We look forward to defending our championship. The depth and strength is as good as last year or better. We didn't lose anything and gained quite a bit. We are very enthused about the season.
"(Wesley) is at the point that he has to start coming in as an NCAA-level athlete. He's been on the cusp. He's ready for great things. I'm excited to see how he does in the first indoor meet."
That meet is Friday at home. Two weeks later at the University of Nebraska, the Zips will take part in a meet that also includes the University of Michigan.
It will be a special occasion for the Wesley family, as Joe's younger sister, Tori, is a freshman vaulter at Michigan
"We're going to have a lot of family there to watch us," Joe Wesley said. "It's going to be interesting to watch her against the Akron pole vaulters.
"I told her to run faster and listen to the coach. I told her you have to put in the time, so you might as well put in the effort."
Away from the track, Wesley is making headway in his sports management major.
"I'll probably graduate with a sports management degree and go to a grad program back in Michigan," he said. "I'm not sure what I want to do, but maybe I'll be an athletic director or a facility manager at the college level. I definitely want to be involved in sports."
But first Wesley has some unfinished business to take care of.
"My goals for the indoor season are to win the Mid-American Conference championship and to qualify for the NCAA championships. I haven't qualified for indoor.
"It motivates me a lot. My teammate was an all-American a couple of years back. I'm trying to get up there. Only 12 guys in the whole nation make it to nationals. It's a big deal to make it to that level. Every vaulter has that dream of making it to nationals."
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