Pole position

By David Fong


TROY — Rob Evans seemed destined to be a pole vaulter and gymnast — even if he didn’t realize it at the time.

“I learned how to walk on my hands when I was 8-years old,” the 1978 Troy High School graduate said. “I had kind of always wanted to do gymnastics. The thing I liked about it was that when I went to the gym, I didn’t have to buy any sticks or tools or balls or bats or gloves. And then gymnastics kind of naturally led in pole vaulting for me. I wouldn’t find out until years later that my grandfather was a good gymnast and my father was a good pole vaulter. So I guess I guess they were something I was meant to do.”

Evans would go on to do both so well at Troy that he literally came within inches of winning state titles in two completely different sports, something no other athlete in school history has ever done. In 1977, he was the state runner-up in the pole vault as a junior. In 1978, he captured a state title in the long horse vault during his senior gymnastics season.

For his efforts in both sports, Evans has been named a member of the Troy Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2017. He’ll be joined by track and field coach Herb Hartman (1968-present), former football coach Steve Nolan (1984-2011), basketball player Dick Steineman (class of 1973) and volleyball/basketball player Stacy Pahl Schretzman (class of 1985). The five will be introduced at the Troy football team’s home game tonight against Bellefontaine, then formally inducted in a ceremony Saturday at the Crystal Room in Troy.

“I’m very excited,” Evans said. “It’s a tremendous honor.”

In gymnastics, Evans was a four-year varsity letterwinner. He placed fifth in the vault at the state meet as a sophomore, then won the event as a senior. That year, he also placed fifth in the high bar and finished in the top five in the all-around. He was named Troy’s Outstanding Senior Gymnast, was the team’s most valuable player and a high school All-American.

In track and field, he was the state runner-up in the pole vault as a junior. As a senior, he qualified for state in the 220-yard dash, the long jump and the pole vault. He had suffered a severe back injury at a meet earlier in the season at Xenia, which affected him the final portion of his senior year. He placed ninth in the pole vault at state that year.

“Coach Hartman knew I had no chance of winning long jump and 220 — so my focus was vaulting,” Evans said. “I had had a bad crash in Xenia prior to state and failed to win.”

Evans said Hartman had a profound impact on his life and is proud to be going into the hall of fame alongside his former coach. Hartman will be introducing Evans at Saturday’s ceremony.

“It’s extraordinary, the relationship we have,” Evans said. “He’s my mentor. Period. He took no prisoners, and I liked that. If you screwed up or you did something foolish, he could make you feel about 2-inches tall — but he did it the right way and you learned from it. He’s someone who has had a tremendous influence on my life. I can’t say enough about what coach has done for me over the years.”

Following his graduation from Troy, Evans had to decide between pursuing gymnastics or track and field in college. With track scholarship offers from both Indiana University and Miami University, he elected to attend Miami with an eye on becoming a decathlete.

His track career would be brief, however, as around Thanksgiving of his freshman year, his coach Chuck Zody sent him to the hospital for a bone scan, where it was discovered he had suffered two cracked vertebrae, likely from his fall at Xenia the previous spring.

“I never could run full speed after that,” Evans said.

Evans would go on to finish school and become an architect, however. He currently lives and works in Valdosta, Ga.

“I’m really looking forward to coming up for the hall of fame ceremony,” he said. “I’m looking forward to bringing my family with me and seeing my parents, who still live in the area.”

Contact David Fong at dfong@aimmediamidwest.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong

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Provided Photo Former Troy High School track athlete and gymnast Rob Evans will be inducted into the Troy Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2017 this weekend.
https://www.tdn-net.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/21/2017/09/web1_evans.jpgProvided Photo Former Troy High School track athlete and gymnast Rob Evans will be inducted into the Troy Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2017 this weekend.
Two-sports star Evans headed to hall of fame