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Atwater soars above competition, dreams big PHOTO GALLERY/VIDEO

  • Lincoln Park's Robert Atwater earned Field MVP honors at Saturday's News-Herald Track & Field Championships and helped guide his team to a second-place finish. Photo by Ricky Lindsay
  • Photo by Ricky Lindsay
  • Photo by Frank Wladyslawski
  • Photo by Frank Wladyslawski
  • Photo by Frank Wladyslawski
  • Photo by Frank Wladyslawski
  • Photo by Frank Wladyslawski
  • Photo by Frank Wladyslawski
  • Photo by Frank Wladyslawski

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Click here for full boys' results and another photo gallery

Click here for full girls' results and another photo gallery

A handful of records and Olympic dreams are contained in Robert Atwater’s long, lanky frame.

With orange Beats headphones, a signature piece of his style, resting around his neck, the Lincoln Park senior celebrates the latest additions to his track legacy with a wide smile at Saturday’s annual News-Herald Track & Field Championships.

The Lincoln Park boys’ track team finished in second place at the meet. Atwater was awarded MVP after finishing first in the boy’s high jump (6-6.2), long jump (22-10-25), and pole vault (14-1) and fifth in the 100-meter dash (11.51).

Atwater cleared 14 feet in first pole vault attempt of the day. He thought it was fluke, but was quickly proven otherwise after breaking a News-Herald track meet record with a 14-foot, 1-inch jump.

“It means a lot,” Atwater said. “I've been working in pole vault two years strong now, so it feels really good.”

“It's unbelievable,” Lincoln Park Coach Tommy Nuttall added. “He's just totally in his element. He's running back and forth between the high jump and long jump, going to the 100, and just smiling, laughing the whole way.”

Atwater’s name is etched throughout Lincoln Park’s track record books. The senior owns the school’s high jump, long jump, pole vault, and 100-meter dash records. Nuttall said he’s claimed a record in almost every meet Lincoln Park has competed in.

But it hasn’t always been that easy for Atwater. The defending high jump state champion has worked hard since his freshman year to get to this level. “All the little stuff,” he said, “every little thing.”

“Honestly, the year before that (2012) he was just an average athlete,” Nuttall said. “His sophomore year, he took fourth in pole vault here. His freshman year, he was just a JV runner. He was actually a distance runner. I got him doing pole vault midway through the year.”

Competing in four events at a meet with 16 participating teams can wear on an athlete. As a result, Lincoln Park’s coaching staff tries to manage Atwater’s day, including different starting heights for pole vault and high jump.

“I try to put somebody down here (the track entrance) and somebody here and we check in and out,” Nuttall said. “We try to take the breathers when we can. Of course we pass to the higher heights. In pole vault, he passed to 12 feet. In high jump, he passed to 6-1. And that saves a lot of attempts down below.”

Atwater’s high school track career is winding to its end, but the state playoffs won’t mark the end of competing. Taking life one day at a time, an aspect Nuttall promotes to Atwater, the two fully expect a collegiate career awaiting on the horizon. Atwater’s collegiate destination has yet to be decided.

“I think he just thinks it's a gateway to the next level because he's just going to keep going,” Nuttall said. “We've already talked about it, we're going to hit some stuff this summer. He just wants to keep going. 

“He's just going to go, 'Bing, bing, bing' right into college and hopefully, I know he has his eyes set on trying out for the Olympics, because I know that's where his main goal is.”

Holding multiple records throughout his high school track career is a good feeling for Atwater.

Atwater’s name is etched throughout Lincoln Park’s track record books. He said it’s a good feeling, but hopes that his name isn’t there for too long.

“I have people that want to catch up to me, want to break me,” Atwater said. “I hope that happens. Hopefully the younger kids, they come up and catch me. It would make me proud.”

Last Updated: 5/12/2014 2:42:21 AM EST