Mia and Max Manson enter the state meet as the No. 1 pole vaulters in 5A.
Max Manson dangled from the pull-up bar. Every few seconds he'd gently swing forward and kick his legs upwards towards the sky. Veins popped from his forearms from the effort, though it wasn't much of one for the Monarch junior. For a brief moment he was vertical, just like he is when he pole vaults.
Beside him a freshman looked on with curious eyes. Max was demonstrating the proper drive technique to the young learner, who absorbed the junior's every word.
"You've got to kick your feet up and point your toes," Max explained.
The freshman nodded as he took his turn on the bar.
Between takes Max flashed an infectious smile and looked on intently with beaming brown eyes.
Despite being a week out of the state championships Max was calm and collected, and in coach-mode, rather than competitor. He had placed his own ambitions temporarily to the side while he helped this young pole vaulter.
He didn't wear his 17-foot personal best, which is also a state-leading mark and No. 9 in the country, on his muscular shoulders. He exuded the tranquil state of a man more likely relaxing on a recliner reading a good book, rather than someone who has the ability to soar 17-feet through air in one aggressive vault. Though his stature hinted at such prowess.
If he had any nervous energy about entering the state meet as the clear favorite, he didn't show it. It was just another day at the track.
The business-like demeanor is something he shares with his younger sister, Mia Manson, along with the infectious smile each of them crack between speaking.
Mia, a Monarch sophomore, watched her brother from a distance with her light blue eyes while her blond curls dangled along her shoulders. Like Max, Mia's sheer strength is evident when she lifts the pole above her head and prepares for launch, revealing muscles that stand out from the shadows when need be. And like Max, Mia is calm between takes, and always flashing and infectious smile.