PENDLETON — Don’t be surprised if you see Pendleton track coach Andrew Sneed flying over the pole vault bar at practice.
The Bucks’ new coach was a pole vaulter in high school and college, and still likes the feel of getting a little air under his feet.
“As long as I can still get over 10 feet, I’ll keep doing it,” he said.
Sneed replaces Larry Brizendine, who retired at the end of last season.
“Andrew has been an amazing addition to our staff here at Pendleton High School, as a teacher and now coach,” Pendleton Athletic Director Mike Somnis said. “He has an impressive resumé and has done a lot of everything in track and field. He loves the sport, has a passion for coaching and we're extremely excited to have him lead our program going forward.”
For the past 10 years, Sneed was the track and cross country coach at Rex Putnam High School in Milwaukie. He was a four-time Northwest Oregon Conference coach of the year with the Kingsmen.
While at Putnam, he wasn’t teaching, but he was going to medical school.
“I’m a new teacher,” said Sneed, who is teaching biology and AP biology at Pendleton High School. “I got hired at a teacher convention in Portland, and I moved here in June. It’s the best decision I have ever made. I really like it here. It’s so community oriented. They support all the kids and programs. It makes my job easier.”
A good portion of the assistant coaches from seasons past are still on staff, which Sneed said had made the transition that much easier.
The Bucks also have more than 80 athletes out for track this spring, but they did lose javelin thrower Sam Jennings, hurdler Andy Oja, pole vaulter and sprinter Kelsey Lovercheck and hurdler Reilly Lovercheck.
Pendleton does return thrower Nathan Neveau, high jumper Nolan Mead, sprinter Brock Mackey, jumper Ben Jennings, thrower Nessa Neveau and sprinter Hadley Brown.
“We have less than 10 seniors, but we have more than 80 kids,” Sneed said. “To have the seasoned veterans pass those clues on to the younger kids is nice. They have the experience of being at Hayward. The kids have set that standard.”
The Bucks move to the 4A Greater Oregon League this spring, which will give the Bucks different opponents when it comes to the postseason.
“We’ll probably have the largest team in the GOL,” Sneed said. “Even though we competed against these schools before, it will be the first time we are competing against them for district titles.”
Sneed graduated from Gladstone High School in 2006 and attended Northwest Nazarene University where he competed in the decathlon.
He was coached by three-time Olympic pole vaulter Tim Bright at Gladstone, where he was a pole vaulter and hurdler. He never made it to state, but came close a couple of times.
“Wilsonville and Sherwood were really strong back in the day,” Sneed said. “I was always third. That’s why I decided to do the decathlon.”
At NNU, he placed sixth in the decathlon at the GNAC Championships in 2009.
“If you are a good pole vaulter and hurdler, you can do the decathlon,” Sneed said. “Those events were where I would catch up the points from the throws. Those events pushed me forward.”
Sneed also is a level one wine sommelier, a certificate he earned in 2016.
“I was coaching, but not working in a professional career,” he said. “I was a bartender and it just seemed like a fun thing to do.”
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