MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Hockey players tend to get the most credit for being tough.

Football players pride themselves on taking a pounding.

But it takes a truly special kind of athlete to fearlessly fly 16 feet into the air.

“My eighth grade gym coach said that in order to be a good pole vaulter, you have to be strong, fast, and have a screw loose in your head,” Lee Bares said.

Bares, of Lakeville South, excels at all of those aspects.

“I broke a pole once,” he said. “I was vaulting, it snapped, and I did a full backflip and landed right on my face. Somehow I was fine. I turned around and was like, ‘Did you get that on tape?'”

Earlier this month, Bares launched himself into the record book with the second-highest vault in state history –15 feet, 9 inches. Grant Krieger of The Blake School jumped 16 feet. Bares said the two are friends and it’s only a matter of time until he tops Krieger’s mark.

“I cleared it with plenty of room to spare,” he said. “I was just the happiest guy coming down, it just felt like forever until I landed on the pit.”

All the more impressive considering he picked up the sport only three years ago. A sport he didn’t even want to do.

“My dad said one day at Cracker Barrel that he signed me up for pole vaulting,” he said. “And I had no idea he did this.”

Bares said at first, he didn’t like the sport at all.

“I didn’t get it,” he said. “It was so confusing … And I ended up just loving the sport.”