KYABRAM teenager James Woods is soaring in the lead-up to his first Australian All-Schools track and field championships in Perth.
The young gun from South Bendigo Athletics Club will show his pole vault and high jump skill at the titles from December 6 to 8 at Mount Claremont Stadium.
A major goal will be match or surpass his personal best leap of 4.70m when he contests the under-18s pole vault.
A lot of his focus in training and competition in recent weeks has centred on the pole vault.
"It's such a challenging event and always popular with spectators, too," Woods said.
His PB was achieved as he won gold representing St Augustine's Kyabram at the Victorian All Schools in Doncaster.
The 16-year-old has travelled from Kyabram at least once a week for sessions with coach Peter Barrett at the Latrobe University Bendigo athletics complex in Flora Hill.
Woods has also played a key role in scoring points for South Bendigo as the Flack Advisory Bendigo Region clubs contest AV Shield League.
The bar at pole vault has risen dramatically since the start of last season.
Best mark for Woods going into the 2018-19 season was 3.20m.
"It's taken a lot of hard work and persistence,"he said of a year in which he represented Regional Australia at the Oceania championships in Townsville.
At that meet, Woods won silver at pole vault and gold in the 4 x 100m relay.
Not every vault is a success.
"Trying to stay positive is always important," Woods said.
There have been several major influences on his athletics pathway.
As a student at a Kyabram P12 College, Woods was encouraged by PE teacher Mr Weagman to pursue track and field.
"The Ironside family was travelling to Bendigo to compete and train,'' he said.
"They invited me along to meet Peter (Barrett) and it was not long until I was vaulting, jumping, and having a go at sprints, too."
There's plenty happening off the track as James, parents Andrea and Glenn, and 18-year-old brother Alex will soon move to Bendigo.
"It's been a two-and-a-half hour round trip from Kyabram to Bendigo for training and competition," the keen athlete said.
"Soon we will be living about five minutes away from the track."
James Woods will also start year 11 studies at Bendigo Senior Secondary College.
He will be part of the new Alumni program in which BSSC will link with the ADP program at Bendigo South East Secondary College to have training sessions before school.
Older brother Alex is aiming to start a building apprenticeship.
He has played a key part in helping his younger sibling add more power and strength through weight sessions at the gym in Kyabram.
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