Thursday's Conversation With Air Force's Joey Uhle
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Welcome to Thursday’s Conversation. Each week, one Mountain West student-athlete will be featured by answering a series of questions.
Joining the conversation this week is Air Force’s Joey Uhle. The senior pole-vaulter from Powell, Ohio, has earned three Conference titles (2013-14 Indoor and 2014 Outdoor) and garnered first-team All-America accolades in 2014 thanks to his seventh-place finish at the 2014 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships.
Last week at the 25th Air Force Invitational, Uhle set a new Academy record in the Pole Vault with a clearance of 18’-2.50’’. That mark is also good for second-best all-time in the MW and currently stands as the No. 4 clearance in the country this season, just ahead of his twin brother Chris Uhle, who attends Virginia Tech and cleared 18’-1.50’’ on the same day as Joey.
Question: You and your brother had big clearances last weekend, with yours setting a new Academy record. Do you follow the national rankings and make a point to see where you and brother are in relation to one another?
Answer: Oh yes. Last Saturday when I cleared 18’2.50’’ the first thing I did was go to my phone and call my parents and text my brother. There was a text waiting for me on my phone from him and he mentioned that he had jumped 18’-1.50’’ and now owned the family record. I texted him back and told him ‘not quite.’
Q: Was breaking the Academy record something on your radar this season?
A: It’s something I’ve definitely been chasing this season, but it’s not my big benchmark goal. Our coaches are big proponents of writing down our goals and achieving them. My goal is to jump 18’-6.00’’. To do that, I just have to get more comfortable in my vault. Pole vaulting is a big mental game and if you’re not ready, you won’t make the jump. I’m also hitting the weights hard, getting stronger and working on some speed work so that I can utilize the bigger poles.
Q: How did you and your brother decide to get into pole vaulting?
A: We were both athletes growing up; we played baseball and soccer. Our older brother, Michael, vaulted in high school and won a state title his senior year and went on to vault for Akron. We couldn’t let that go without being answered, so we competed in high school (Joey was the first pole vaulter in the state of Ohio to clear 17 feet in high school) and are still competing.
Q: Being a twin brings with it a unique bond. When it came time to make the decision on where you and Chris were going to go to college, was it difficult to separate and go your own way?
A: It was a little rough in the beginning because we had vaulted together all through high school. Since I was in middle school I had the desire of attending the Air Force Academy. My uncle was a fighter pilot and flew F-16’s. The Academy was looking at both of us, but my brother decided to go to Virginia Tech.
Q: You’ll be graduating from the Academy in a few short months. What are your plans after graduation?
A: Right now I have a pilot slot for 2016, but I’ve just started to work on my application for the World Class Athletes Program, which is Air Force-sponsored. The program allows athletes that have a chance at making the Olympics the opportunity to train for one or two years before fulfilling their active-duty requirements.
Q: So, you’re looking at Rio 2016?
A: Yes that is the plan. My brother and I have been talking about it and with the World Class Athletes Program, there’s some flexibility in terms of where I can train, so we’ve discussed me moving out to Virginia and training with him at Virginia Tech.
Q: If you were to have some free time, what would you do with it?
A: I’m a big outdoors guy. I like to hunt, fish and go camping. Hopefully I can do all of that if I move out to Virginia.
Do you have a student-athlete you’d like to see featured in an upcoming Thursday's Conversation? Contact Dan Johnson at djohnson@TheMW.com