Striving for new heights: Lieberman always looking to go step farther

Polk County senior Troy Lieberman is the top seed in the pole vault entering Friday's 2A/1A state championship meet.

For someone who spends so much time in the air, Troy Lieberman remains remarkably grounded.

Take December’s Reindeer Games track meet, an event as much about collecting canned goods for Thermal Belt Outreach Ministry as competition.

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The evening prior to the meet, with can collection below usual levels, Lieberman began asking friends, teachers, local store managers, anyone with an ear and a can for a donation. He asked, then he asked again – and he collected more than 1,200 items in 24 hours for TBOM.

Lieberman also won his speciality, the pole vault, at the meet. But that was merely his second best effort of the afternoon.

“I saw an opportunity to help out, to raise some money and collect food and benefit other people as well,” Lieberman said. “I like to look out for other people. I want to lend a helping hand when there is none.”

Troy Lieberman collected more than 1,200 items in a 24-hour span prior to the Reindeer Games meet in December (photo courtesy Tracie Hanson).

That willingness to go the extra mile for others is typical for the Polk County senior, who constantly looks for the next challenge. His current focus, for example, is to clear 14 feet, 3 1/4 inches in the pole vault, a height which would qualify him for national competition.

It could also possibly earn him a state title on Friday when Lieberman takes part in the North Carolina 2A/1A indoor track championships in Winston-Salem. He enters as the top seed in the event with a vault of 13-6, but will be pressed by Surry Central’s Tyler Fitzgerald and Polk County teammate Jake Justice, among others.

“I’m definitely nervous, but I’m trying to get rid of that mental block and be confident about it,” Lieberman said of Friday’s meet.

Lieberman became interested in vaulting after watching his older brother, Bryan, take part in the event. But pushing himself to succeed has long been in Lieberman’s blood; he will soon begin his seventh season as a competitive motocross rider, where he has won numerous races and class championships. He’ll primarily compete this season in the Grand National Cross Country Series, where he placed fourth last year in the 4-Stroke B Lites class.

“I’ve met a lot of good people doing it,” Lieberman said. “It’s brought me a great opportunity to meet some really great people. There’s always room for improvement in that sport as well.”

Never being satisfied with the status quo, be it on the race course, the track or in the community – it is what motivates Lieberman.

“You can always get better,” he said. “You can always PR (set a personal record), always go a step farther.”

Troy Lieberman is gearing up for his seventh season as a competitive motocross rider (photo courtesy Tracie Hanson).