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Paul Chandler is the best pole vaulter in the state and ranks among the top pole vaulters nationally. A senior captain for the Staples boys track and field indoor and outdoor track teams, he proved this statement to be true by winning the State Open title in the pole vault by leaping 14-fett, won Class LL (14-0) and finished fifth at the National Indoor Track championships (14-10,5), which broke a school record and earned him All-American honors.

"I was extremely thrilled to earn All-American," Chandler said. "I never thought it was possible when I first did track as a freshman."

Although he won at Class LL and State Open, he wasn't 100 percent pleased with his performance.

"I worked hard at States [Class LL] and State Open, but I didn't do as well there as I'd hoped," Chandler admitted. "I resolved to work hard between Eastern Regionals and Nationals and it helped me do well at Nationals."

He played a major role in Staples taking second at FCIACs, fifth at Class LL and third at State Open and was awarded the Block S Team MVP award.

"Paul is very focused, obviously very talented and is a very hard worker," Wreckers Coach Laddie Lawrence said. "When you put it all together, he's the best pole vaulter in our program's history."

When the season began, his stellar ending looked like a pipe dream because he was off to a slow start. He was determined to change that and he successfully steered himself in the direction towards the winner's circle.

"At the beginning of the year, I struggled a bit because [for the most part], I didn't pole vault for six months," Chandler said. "Running helped me get in shape and by the end of the year, I was doing my best."

This winter, he began doing the long jump and finished fifth in it at FCIACs. Although he qualified for the long jump in Class LL, he didn't compete in it because he wanted to solely focus on the pole vault. During outdoor track, he does the triple jump and does well in it, but similar to the long jump, it takes a back seat to the pole vault.

Adjusting to the long jump wasn't easy but he was able to do it.

"The training I did with my pole vault, my speed, dexterity and running ability, helped me," Chandler said. "In the first meet, I didn't do well in the long jump, but in the second meet, I jumped 19-1 and qualified for States."

He hopes to improve in the triple jump and contribute a few points in it.

"I have to continue to work on my jumping ability," Chandler. "I don't have high aspirations in it."

During his freshman year, he tried sprinting, distance events and jumping during the indoor season. Once he found his niche in the pole vault, he devoted his energies towards fine tuning his skills in it.

"I tried different events to see what I'm good at it and I liked the pole vault because the results are measurable," Chandler said. "The pole vault is a combination of sprinting, jumping and gymnastics and I'm able to combine all the things I'm interested in."

When he first signed up for indoor track, his plan was to use it to get into shape for lacrosse and football. After one season of track, he dropped lacrosse and did outdoor track.

Sophomore year, he took second in the pole vault in Class L indoor track and placed third in Class L in it in outdoor track.

"I was consistent and it wasn't a surprise to break out as a state contender," Chandler said. "It set the stage for vaulting for the next few years."

Following his sophomore year, he started to attend pole vaulting camps and clinics. That summer, he attended clinics in Rhode Island and Pennsylvania. He didn't have much time for clinics during the summer after junior year because he was busy with recruiting trips but managed to go for a week to a clinic in North Carolina.

Before junior year, he quit football to focus on track. He joined the cross-country team that year and although he didn't participate in a race, he was still able to work out and get in shape for track.

This spring, he's setting lofty but reachable goals for himself.

"With the right training, I hope to do the same thing [win Class LL and State Open and add a New England championship title [no pole vaulting during the indoor season at New Englands]," Chandler said. "I'll take it one step at a time. I'll train for it and I hope to compete at a high level."

Leadership is a strength of his as he is a track captain for both indoor and outdoor. For the most part, he leads by example through his work ethic.

"Being captain was a good experience for me," Chandler said. "I enjoyed having some control over the track team, coordinating meets and collaborating with my other captains and coaches. It was a lot of fun and I worked to set a good example."

He is the indoor track team's scholar-athlete to the Staples Scholar-Athlete banquet. Overall, he took five AP courses, three this year.

"It feels great to represent the team at the Scholar-Athlete banquet," Chandler said. "I work hard in school as well as on the track. I know how important it is to do well in school and I find it easy to balance my schoolwork with track during the season because it's [your routine] regimented when you have a schedule and I have no trouble balancing everything."

Next year, he'll pole vault for Yale University. He knows he'll have to increase his distances in order to thrive at Yale.

"There are great expectations at a Division I program," Chandler said. "Yale has great coaches and great facilities to work out at. Having a regimented program helps and I hope to have an Ivy League championship and earn All-American. I'll work hard the next four years and we'll see."

Lawrence said, "He will do well at Yale. "Guys who didn't jump as high as Paul jumped 18-feet in college."