Hinch soars with Sun Devils

Placer product among the NCAA’s best as he sets sights on June’s Olympic trials
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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Derick Hinch came up short in his quest to compete at the NCAA Indoor Nationals earlier this spring. But the Arizona State sophomore didn’t spend much time wallowing in disappointment. Instead, the Placer High graduate went to work, perfecting his pole vaulting technique and preparing for his first outdoor season with the Sun Devils. Two weeks later, Hinch was soaring to new heights. On March 24 at the Arizona State Invitational he smashed his previous personal best, clearing 5.5 meters (18 feet, ½ inch) to win the meet and jump into the national championship conversation. Hinch’s mark is tied for fourth-best in the nation this year. “I didn’t qualify for indoor nationals and I had two weeks of down time,” Hinch said. “I figured I needed to change something. I did a lot of short runs and didn’t make a long run until my first meet. It helped a lot. I was able to store more energy into the pole. I busted out a 25-centimeter PR.” Hinch is part of an Arizona State team that is one of the best in the West. He made an immediate impact after one stellar season at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, where Hinch won the California Community College Athletic Association title with a vault of 16-8.75. Hinch arrived in Tempe, Ariz. last fall and has relished his time. “It’s been awesome,” he said. “School’s going good and the athletic programs are top of the line. I really like my coaches, all my teammates. It’s just been great.” Hinch had several Division I options after his sensational season at Cuesta, but the Sun Devils’ program, along with the weather in Arizona, were too good to pass up. Arizona State is ranked No. 7 in the country heading into a big tri-meet with Southeastern Conference powers Arkansas and LSU this weekend. Hinch will get a look at some top notch competition when Razorbacks’ freshman Andrew Irwin brings his PR of 18-4 ½ to Sun Devil Stadium. The 2010 Placer graduate welcomes the competition. He has a series of major tests coming up this spring, starting with the Pac-12 Conference Championships May 12-13 in Eugene, Ore. Then it’s the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, Iowa and, he hopes, the U.S. Olympic Trials back in Eugene in June. “The ultimate goal for this year is clearing 18-9, which is the ‘A’ standard. That guarantees that I get to go to the Trials,” Hinch said. He knows his PR last month was no fluke. Hinch won the Sun Angel Classic last weekend with a solid 17-9. He said at an all-comers meet earlier this month he cleared 18-3, but the standard slipped and fell an inch, nullifying the mark. Since his days as a Hillman, Hinch said he’s added muscle and speed to his formerly slim frame. “I’ve gotten stronger and faster and just continued to work hard,” he said. “I’m just trying to get better, day by day.” Hinch is taking on a double major in sociology and sustainability. He’s unsure what his future holds in the professional world, but he is excited about the prospects. “Sustainability is a new major,” he explained. “It involves alternative energy, green energy. It’s going to be big in the future.”