2007 Kaneland graduate Sam Kranz (right), at the KHS pole vault summer camp June 27, is now a coach at Murray State University in Murray, Ky. Kranz gets a low-five from current Kaneland High School pole vault coach Andy Drendel (below, far right) after clearing 17 feet. Photos by Patti Wilk
Knight track alum important aspect of Murray State program
MURRAY, KY.—Sam Kranz, a member of Kaneland’s Class of 2007, has seen his track fortunes take him many places in the continental United States.
Most recently, he was in Los Angeles on the grounds of the U.S. Olympic Training Center at the Emerging Elite clinic for coaches of all levels, picking the brains of invited coaches and Olympic athletes.
That’s just another tool in Kranz’s coaching arsenal, which brings him back to Murray State University in Murray, Ky., where he was a women’s track graduate assistant, concentrating in pole vault.
A State qualifier in IHSA boys track for the Kaneland pole vault factory, Kranz, who lives in Murray, came over from his alma mater Northern Iowa after spending a year as a graduate assistant.
“It was kind of strange being a mentor to kids at that level after recently competing, but the kids understand after awhile once you put on the polo,” Kranz said.
On head coach Jenny Severns’ staff, Kranz is using his skills and acumen in an Ohio Valley Conference that is ripe for the taking.
“The OVC is in a real interesting spot, with your pole vault and high jump in kind of a weak spot conference-wise, but the triple jumps are up there with the best in the nation,” Kranz said.
Kranz knows what success and training can yield, and hopes the Racers program can improve on its 60-point, seventh-place team finish at the OVC meet.
“We had a girl earn a personal record by 2-and-a-half feet this year and another by over a foot, but there’s enough to look back on to see what we could have done differently,” Kranz said.
Kranz is also aiming to up his game in recruiting.
“Recruiting is such a big part of this,” Kranz said. “We’re not at the point where we can point to a lot of success at Murray for something like pole vault. That’s what I want to be able to point out to girls that we talk to in a couple of years.”
The Racer coaching staff member can draw on top-notch influences that he gathered as an athlete and give back from anywhere from a Kaneland pole vault camp to a conference meet in Edwardsville, Ill.
“I draw on anyone from Dan Steele, who was at Northern Iowa, to my dad, who founded his own company and is president,” Kranz said. “I can talk with them about anything and they are really good mentors and there are some similarities that overlap. They influence how I do this. I’ll continue to work hard and help develop the program.”