What track and field on-lookers around Pennsylvania are wondering is: ‘How high can Tim Moses go?’ But perhaps a more pressing question might be: “How high will Moses set his own personal bar?’
For Moses, being considered the top pole vaulter in the state is a nice compliment. But what the Palmyra senior is more concerned with is exploring and testing his individual limitations.
His expectations for himself seem to be on a different plane than everyone else’s.
“My main goal is to jump as high as I can,” said Moses. “Just to be the best pole vaulter I can possibly be. Whatever I win would be icing on the cake.
“I have tons of room for improvement,” Moses continued. “I have a number of improvements I could make. I could do all kinds of things. My vault is by no means perfect.
“No, perfection doesn’t exist. There’s just times when you come pretty close.”
There are a couple of factors that could make Moses the odds-on favorite to win a state championship at the PIAA Championships at Shippensburg University next month. First and foremost is the fact that he has already won one.
In February at Penn State, during the increasingly more prestigious Pennsylvania Track and Field Coaches Association’s Indoor Championships, Moses claimed the top honors in the pole vault competition. It wasn’t quite the same as winning an outdoor state championship, but it was as close as one could come without doing it.
Or to put a different perspective on it, consider this: Palmyra has won nine individual PIAA track and field championships in school history, but Moses’ is the only indoor state crown that the Cougars ever garnered.
“It was a huge deal,” said Moses. “It was everything I wanted, to win a state championship. It was great. It’s probably my biggest feat so far. But for me, winning an outdoor state championship would be even bigger than winning an indoor one.
“It was an alright day,” added Moses. “It was good to go to Penn State and fun to compete. I wanted to go a little higher, but it was good to come away with a state championship.
“Personally, I don’t think it’s the same,” said Palmyra track and field coach Dan Byrd, for comparison sake. “But it’s a pretty darn good accomplishment. He went up against some pretty good competition. Most of the top guys in the state were there. He’g going to see a lot of the same guys at Shippensburg in May.
“Tim will tell you it’s the first piece of the puzzle,” Byrd added. “The ultimate goal is to win a PIAA state championship. But you’ll have more teams competing outdoors, so the competition will definitely be more stiff.”
Last spring at Ship’s Seth Grove Stadium, Moses, then a junior, finished sixth in the PIAA Class AAA pole vault competition. But everyone who finished ahead of him – including teammate Shawn Mayer – has since graduated.
“A lot of what happens in the air stems from the run,” said Moses. “It’s what carries you into the pit safely. It is so critical, but that’s what I can improve on most. There’s also a final shove that I can improve on. I don’t have much of a push at all.
“At practice I’ve been trying to vault as much as I can,” Moses continued. “But it’s difficult. It’s been windy and cold, but it is the outdoor season.”
“I definitely think, right now going into the season, he’s the favorite,” said Byrd of Moses and a state championship. “I don’t know anyone in Pennsylvania who’s better. I think he knows that. That’s one of the things that drives him, to be a champion.”
Moses jumped 15-0 when he copped his sixth-place medal at the PIAA Championships last spring, and he vaulted 15-7 at Penn State when he claimed his indoor state title. His personal best is 16-2.
Moses is also ranked among the top ten scholastic pole vaulters in the country.
“I want to break my PR (personal record), and I plan on it,” said Moses. “I like the event. I like flying through the air. But it’s taught me that if you work very hard, you can achieve anything. I’ve never been very athletic before that.
“It’s difficult to really say (how high he can go),” added Moses. “I don’t think I could ever be satisfied. I’d want even more. I can’t put a number on my success.
“Eighteen feet. 17 feet. If I could get there, it would be neat. But I don’t think I can get there.”
“Right now, he’s easily the best vaulter I know of,” said Byrd of Moses. “His goal is to win that outdoor championship. He comes from a pole vaulting family. They’re dentists and pole vaulters.”
Tim was preceded at Palmyra by three record-setting, pole-vaulting cousins. His father Terry and his brother were champion pole vaulters at Cedar Cliff High School back int the 1960s.
Even Tim’s mother Patricia helps out by providing emotional support, and at times by toting around his poles.
“They helped get me into it, a lot,” said Moses of his immediate ancestors. “They’re the main reason I vault. They introduced me to the sport. They all had a tremendous influence on me. I don’t think I could’ve had the same success myself.
“My earliest memory of pole vaulting was my father and I watching a high school meet when I was in eighth grade,” Moses continued. “Then my father and I started going over all the time. My freshman year of high school is when I got hot and heavy with it.”
Yet despite all of his accomplishments and success, Moses doesn’t see himself as much of an athlete.
“The most rewarding thing is,” said Moses, who doesn’t compete in any other sports, “I truly believe anyone can have the success I’ve had. You just have to be willing to put the work in. When it gets tough, you’ve got to keep working at it. I have no natural ability. That’s the underlying message I want to get across, that what I’ve been able to accomplish came through hard work.”