Freshman named ECAC Men’s Rookie of the Week for track and field

Edgar Ayala – Special to the Southern News 

Freshman Hunter Stokes of the Southern Men’s track and field team has had a strong first season for the Owls, including being named ECAC Men’s Rookie of the Week earlier in the season.

Stokes, 18, is from Madison Conn. won the award for his performance at the Elm City Challenge in Moore Field House this past month, where he placed third in the pole vault event with a height of 3.75m.  Upon hearing that he won the award, Stokes said that it came as a bit of a shock to him.

“No, I didn’t expect it at all,” he said.  “I’ve seen that there was rookie of the weeks but I didn’t expect it to be me this early in the year.”

Stokes was able to capture the award in what was only his second game as a college track and field athlete.  Although this award might come off as a bit of surprise to him, he said he has enjoyed big success in his career, such as when he was announced All-State in the decathlon and Field Athlete of the year in his time at Daniel Hand High School.

Head coach John Wallin said he was just as surprised as Stokes was when he heard about the award but wasn’t hesitant to speak about his future rising star.   

“I think he could become very successful,” he said. “He could be an All-American eventually.  He’s got the work ethic and the athletic ability now he just needs to get some experience, and I think he’s well on his way to being an All-American potentially next year.”

Upon arriving to Southern, Wallin said he had been working with Stokes to improve his technique in the pole vault.  For Stokes, he said getting the technique down is the hardest part of the pole vault.

“Just how technical it is,” said Stokes. “If one thing goes wrong than the rest of the vault is screwed up.  I feel that just it being such a technical event makes it really hard because, there so many aspects to it that you have to put together.”

He also said that he likes how his coach is not afraid of pinpointing his weaknesses and telling him what he needs to improve on as a player.

“I feel like he’s a very good coach for manipulating what you’ve been doing wrong, and tweaking it to make sure you do it right,” said Stokes.

Even though he is just a freshman, Stokes said that he has developed a routine before his games, listening to music to help him stay focused and energized as he feels it’s a good way to get you in the right state of mind.

In addition, Wallin said that Stokes is a smart, explosive, and an easy to coach player with great sprinting and jumping ability.

Stokes said that he has had several inspirations and role models in his life that has helped him reach the achievements he has today, but his father is a huge motivation in his life as has played track in high school too.

Some of his favorite athletes are Allen Iverson and Renaud Lavillenie, he said.  And according to Stokes, Iverson is one of his favorite athletes of all time.

“I like how he was always fearless,” he said.  “He was always trying to go against the grain and really wasn’t a picture perfect athlete at the time, and in a way reinvented the sport.”

Sports aside, Stokes loves writing as he believes English is his best subject and plans to graduate with a degree in Sociology, he said.

“I’m going to major in sociology,” .he said. “Because I want to go into law enforcement and hopefully become a police officer.”


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