The sky’s the limit for Rustin’s Charley Dever


Athlete: Renaud Lavillenie – world record holder (pole vault)
Movie: Forrest Gump
Food: Salmon
TV show: Game of Thrones
Music: Classic Rock





WEST CHESTER – The sky’s the limit.

It’s one of the most time-worn clichés in all of sport, but in the case of West Chester Rustin senior pole vaulter Charley Dever – it’s right on the money.

Dever, who has received an appointment to attend the Naval Academy next fall, reached rarefied air when he shattered an 11-year old Pennsylvania record with a vault of 17 feet during a dual meet at Unionville in April.

The National All-American, a three-time state medalist, two-time all-state performer and state record holder, continued his climb into the clouds by winning the District 1-AAA pole vault championship over the weekend at Coatesville with a vault of 16 feet, 4 inches, shattering the district record.

“Charley will continue to improve as he dedicates more time to fine tuning some of the technical aspects of his vault,” said Rustin coach Shaz Brown. “Charley is a great vaulter mainly because of his speed and power, so as that continues to improve with growth and strength from maturing naturally, I could see him getting to 18-19 feet in college.”

Strength, agility, speed and mechanical expertise are all components that have enabled Dever to rise to the top.

There seems to be no ceiling for Dever, the son of Kim and Mike Dever who plans to major in mechanical engineering at the USNA and “optimally will train to become a pilot after graduation.”


Coming off a third place finish in the PIAA Class AAA championships last spring and a fourth at indoor states with identical vaults of 15-0, Dever is currently ranked No. 1 in the state and sixth nationally.

Charley, who began pole vaulting his freshman year at Rustin before a wrist injury delayed his real start in the sport to his sophomore year, is upholding a family tradition that began with his brother Matthew at Rustin.

“I was first inspired by my brother Matthew,” said Charley, an officer in the National Honors Society whose athletic achievements are equaled by his performance in the classroom. “I was in eighth grade when I watched him fly over 14 feet, resetting his own school record. He later cleared 14-6 and medaled at States.”

And in a sense, paved the way for his younger brother, who attributes his recent success to good health.

“Not being injured is what is allowing me to practice and compete at the level that I want,” Charley said.

His unparalleled work ethic has also helped Dever soar.

“Charley is extremely disciplined and self-motivated. He has spent hundreds of hours training at Vertical Assault and Philly Jumps Club, fine tuning each and every part of his craft,” said Brown. “Charley has a very easy going demeanor but he is extremely competitive and takes great pride in his work.”

Science has played a role in Dever’s success, along with an able assist from his father Mike.

“His dad, Mike, has really done a great job with him and all of our vaulters over the past few years,” Brown said. “Mike is very detail oriented and is on top of every single detail each time Charley competes.

“If there is a chance of the wind shifting in a certain direction, Mike will be prepared for how Charley should adjust his approach or switch to a different pole. Most people think pole vaulting is just being crazy enough to throw yourself over a bar 17 feet in the air but there is so much science involved (as with all events in track and field).”

As far as the science, Charley has developed a specific workout regimen to enable him to compete at an elite level.

“For general fitness, before the season started last fall, I was mostly doing heavier lifts for strictly strength,” Charley said. “During the competing season, I have been keeping it to plyometrics and lighter, more explosive lifting. I restarted my pole vault specific training last fall, when I was healed from a stress fracture that hindered me during my Junior year.

“I started by focusing on short-step (3 or 4 lefts) runs, then slowly worked up to a 7-step run. My coaches and I put a lot of work into improving my plant and takeoff. I averaged about one full practice per week during the indoor and spring track seasons. About a month ago I increased my run to an 8-step, which further increased my speed at plant. The first time I ran from 8-lefts I broke the 11-year old state record with my vault of 17 feet.”

That training should serve Charley well when he has to face the extreme physical and academic demands at the Naval Academy.

“Charley is a great student who brings the same amount of discipline into the classroom as he will at the vault pit,” said Brown. “He is very analytical by nature and is one of the most complete kids I have ever coached in terms of being respectful, responsible, coachable, and selfless. All these traits will translate to life in the Naval Academy.”

Charley is confident his academic and athletic experience at Rustin will help him handle everything in Annapolis, MD.

“One of the more important things that I have learned from athletics that will help me at the Naval Academy is structure, “ Charley said. “For this outdoor season, I put together a schedule with my dad at the start of the season that outlined what days I would be practicing and what my focus for the practices would be.”

Charley never seems to lose focus of the task at hand or an appreciation of all those that have helped him climb into the PA track record book.

“I learned that a team is essential for success,” said Dever. “Everyone at Rustin was very supportive and always seemed to have my best interests in mind. Chris Lunardi, our Athletic Director, gave me the flexibility to use the school facilities to suit my training and he made sure we had what I needed to train. And I want to give a big shout out to Shaz Brown, my head coach of the boy’s track team, who provided me with support, both mentally and physically, at times when I was struggling to meet my expectations.”

Those expectations have been generated with the help of others.

“I’d also like to thank Brian Mondschein and Talen Singer (my coaches at Philly Jumps Club),” Dever said. “Brian was instrumental in coaching me to the state record. Also Doug Houser (the head coach at Vertical Assault), who provided the foundation that took me to my first 15’ vault.  Lastly, my Dad, who has been essential at meets. He instructs me on what I need to change in my jump to make the next bar.”

With such a strong network of family, teammates and coaches, the sky is clearly the limit for Charley Dever.




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