This week on '20 Questions' we caught up with sophomore pole vaulter Jace Kruger of Dickinson, North Dakota.
20Q: How did you get started in track & field?
JK: In the 7th grade I started track because for some odd reason I thought running was cool. I was wrong. I excelled in high jump and moved up to varsity, but I always watched the pole vaulters and knew I wanted to try vaulting. When freshman year came and I was able to try it, I fell in love.
20Q: In your own words, describe your event and what you love about it?
JK: My event is pole vault. To me, it’s the most rewarding/frustrating thing I’ve ever done. Basically you grab a fiberglass (or even better a carbon fiber) pole between 16 and 14 feet and sprint to an eight inch hole in the ground. After you have left the ground it’s basically blurred flash of sky until you see the bar as you pass over and fall to the pit.
20Q: What is your goal for the season?
JK: My goal for the season is to vault 15’6” or higher and to place top-ten at outdoor conference while staying relatively injury free.
20Q: What was the best advice ever given to you?
JK: The best advice given to me is from my mom who tells me the song “Humble and Kind” by Tim McGraw is her song to me. Moral of the story is to stay humble and kind through all the twists and curves life throws.
20Q: Which athlete inspires you the most?
JK: Growing up as a kid I played some of the typical sports like basketball, baseball, and football, but I never really had great interest in them. I always liked something with more of an adrenaline rush. Motocross was one of my favorite things and the daredevil motocross racer Travis Pastrana was for sure my idol. The guy has broken more than 60 bones and has survived 25 concussions. Someone who can endure that much pain and just keep getting back up makes the small injuries I get seem so minor.
20Q: What would you like to be remembered for?
JK: I would like to be remembered for my hard work and determination to keep moving forward. Most likely I will probably be remembered for having a bright blue redneck truck.
20Q: What is your pre-competition ritual if you have one?
JK: I try to have a pre- completion routine, but I always end up forgetting what I did the last time. Usually I just listen to music for a bit and think about vaulting.
20Q: What are your hobbies outside of athletics?
JK: I enjoy hunting, fishing, hiking and pretty much anything outdoors. I also like working for my father’s construction company in the summers, which is weird because most would just consider that a job.
20Q: Name one thing most people would be surprised to know about you?
JK: Over my high school years, I self taught myself the art of taxidermy. In the winter months I was always coyote hunting, so I learned how to skin and tan the hides to make pelts. This led to mounting the deer I shot. Now, whenever I shoot something it usually ends up on a wall despite how much it makes my mom mad. Kind of creepy, kind of cool.
20Q: The best part of being an athlete?
JK: I think the best part of being an athlete is the lessons it teaches you along the way that apply to everyday life. You become a much stronger person mentally and physically after years of athletics. The ups teach you to become humble and the downs teach you determination. That and the chocolate milk in the weight room
20Q: Which teammate inspires you the most and why?
JK: The teammate that inspires me the most is Zac Ray. Here are some interesting facts about Zac:
- His tears can cure cancer, too bad he never cries
- Once a rattlesnake bit him, after 5 days of excruciating pain, the snake finally died
- He can speak Russian… in French
- He has never waited 15 minutes after finishing a meal before returning to the pool
20Q: What are three things on your bucket list?
- Shoot a bull elk with both bow and rifle
- Build a rat rod (basically an old classic car that is lowered to the ground with an unreasonably sized engine)
- Go on a fishing/hunting trip in Alaska with my father
20Q: If you could do any event in track & field, what would it be & why?
JK: I would like to try shot put or javelin. Something seems pretty rewarding and competitive about hucking an object as far as you can.
20Q: Who has made the biggest impact in your life?
JK: My father has made the biggest impact in my life. I watched him build a business out of nothing but years of hard work. I have also watched him enjoy the satisfaction of his hard work which in turn drives me to be like him and strive for my goals by keeping my nose to the grind stone.
20Q: What is your goal after you graduate?
JK: My goal is to successfully operate my family’s construction and excavation company in Dickinson, ND.
20Q: How would your teammates describe you?
JK: If my teammates were to describe me I think they would say I’m a hick from Western N.D. who works hard but also likes to have fun and get into plenty of shenanigans.
20Q: What is your favorite movie of all time? Why?
JK: I don’t think most would classify Planet Earth as a movie, but I can binge watch it over and over. The scenery and the wildlife are incredible. I’m always in awe of the places in the world that I didn’t even know existed.
20Q: Which road-trip are you most looking forward to this season and why?
JK: I would either say our trip to Long Beach California or outdoor conference which is also in California. For some reason I love to vault in places like California where people question the existence of ND.
20Q: What makes UND special to you?
JK: UND is special to me because it is like my second home. The campus in general has a friendly feel to it that I noticed right away when I stepped foot on it. I have gained a lot of new friends and experiences here that will stick with me for the rest of my life.
20Q: What is the best thing about living where you do?
JK: I live in a 6-person house and most of us are on the track team. I would say the best thing about it is that I can wake up 15 min before class and still make it on time because of how close it is.