Bar set high for Rebels

Gareth and Barrett Weiss might be among the most organized teenagers around.

They wake up in the morning and head to school to tackle a variety of subjects from English to mathematics. Then it's off to gymnastics practice before taking a couple of hours to practice their musical instruments. Somewhere in between, there's time allotted in their busy schedules to work on their pole vaulting techniques.

It appears they've become adjusted to managing their to-do lists rather well, which is half the battle for the freshmen pole vaulters on the Flintridge Prep boys' track and field team. It's played a significant role in them excelling in pole vaulting in just their ninth-grade years.

"It would be nice to have more hours in the day, but you have to be efficient with your time," said Gareth, who along with Barrett, will participate in the CIF Southern Section Division IV finals at noon today at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut. "We get a lot of preparation from our gymnastic and pole vaulting coaches, so that helps.

"You have to be able to stick to the schedule and do the best you can at each thing."

The brothers have certainly done their best in pole vaulting. Gareth captured the Prep League championship in the pole vault with a mark of 12 feet 4 inches on May 3 at Claremont-McKenna College. Barrett took second at 12 feet. At the Division IV prelims at Carpinteria High on May 12, Gareth tied for the top qualifying mark of 12 feet, while Barrett registered the ninth and final qualifying spot at 11-6.

The top 12 marks, regardless of division, from today's competition will advance to the CIF Southern Section Masters Meet, which will be held Friday at Cerritos College in Norwalk.

Constantly in motion, things seem to be going well at the right time for the identical twin brothers, who helped the Rebels boys' track and field team capture its first league championship since 2003.

"You try to get everything done as quickly as possible and sometimes you get tired," Barrett said. "It's mostly about trying to convince yourself that you can get better, whether that's in gymnastics or pole vaulting.

"Things get tough each week trying to balance everything, but you have to keep working hard at everything."

In showcasing their multiple talents, Gareth plays the clarinet and piano and Barrett plays the French horn and viola. In addition, the brothers spend about 18 hours per week mastering their many gymnastic routines and competing in meets across Southern California. It's also helped improve their coordination and agility on the pole vault runways, where they take comfort knowing they can excel.

"You build body strength with gymnastics," Gareth said. "Then when it comes to pole vaulting, you use that strength to manipulate your body.

"You find that power in your run and go through your correct positioning."

Flintridge Prep Coach Nick Ponticello said he wasn't sure what to originally expect from the brothers, who also compete in the high, triple and long jumps, when they approached him about trying out for the team.

Ponticello met with them and outlined the Flintridge Prep practice schedules and meets.

"I didn't know much about them other than hearing they were good gymnasts," Ponticello said. "They approached me and said they were interested, but that they each had a huge work load.

"I could see that they would be committed to all of our meets while also having to balance the other things they do. They've both stepped up and proven to be excellent pole vaulters."

It didn't take long for the brothers to become known. During the Monrovia Wildcat Relays on March 3 at Monrovia High, each event had been completed with the exception of the pole vault.

With dusk rapidly approaching, a handful of vaulters that included the brothers were still on the runways competing. The remainder of the athletes from the other running and field events flocked to the infield to watch the conclusion of the pole vault.

"All of the other people were tired, but they had to wait around for it to finish," Ponticello said. "So, everybody went over to watch it and it seemed to motivate Gareth and Barrett and I think that helped us gain a lot of momentum for the rest of the season.

"They are our leaders, they are always on top of what they should be doing and they communicate very well."

Undoubtedly, the brothers, who work with Flintridge Prep pole vaulting Coach David Minguez and private coach Brooks Morris, will be closely watched today in their quests to extend their seasons.

That's fine for the both of them as they anticipate another adrenaline rush.

"I'll probably be a little nervous because it's going to be a big meet," Gareth said. "There will be a lot of good competition and it will be exciting."

Said Barrett: "It's all about concentrating and knowing what the task is and that's clearing the bar."

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