Tom and Mike Domozych are known in the pole vaulting community not by their names, but by their relation.
“I remember being at some of the meets in the spring and you’re running by and you’d hear one of the kids go 'oh, there are the brothers,’ ” said Tom, a senior at Connetquot. “Some of the kids know us as just ‘the brothers.’ ”
And they have no problem with that.
“It feels great,” said Mike, a junior. “That’s what we’ve been working for our whole lives, I guess. We’ve always wanted to be the best. We’re always competing against each other. When we’re known together, it’s always a good thing.”
Lately, these brothers are known for winning. The duo took the top two places at the Suffolk pole vault State Qualifier Feb. 7 at Mount Sinai. Tom won, clearing a personal-best 14 feet, and Mike cleared 13 feet to take second. The finishes qualified them for the state track and field championships, scheduled for March 2 at Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex on Staten Island.
“I didn’t really expect it,” Mike said. “…I knew there was a lot of good competition at the meet, especially my brother. I knew I had to jump well. Once I got to the meet, a lot of the kids were dropping out at lower heights. I got 13 [feet] and that was it. It was me and Tom and we just went into a jump off. It felt really good.”
So, county supremacy — something that eight competitors came into the meet wanting and countless more entered the season craving — came down to the most basic of story lines, brother vs. brother. But that’s the way it’s always been in the Domozych household.
“Ever since I was born, we’ve always been competing in everything,” Mike said. “…He’s been my motivation my whole life. I’ve always been wanting to beat him my whole life. He pushes me through everything.”
Tom was the first to find pole vault, starting in the spring of his freshman year. After a rough start — “I was terrible,” Tom said — the older Domozych broke through during his sophomore season. That year, he did indoor track for the first time and started working with Connetquot pole vault coach Shelby White.
“With about two weeks left until the state qualifier, that’s when Shelby started coming down,” Tom said. “Me and him worked out every day going towards the state qualifier and, in those two weeks, I jumped up two and half feet. I went from nine feet, six inches to 12 feet in two weeks.”
Mike followed in his brother’s footsteps, joining the vaulting unit in the spring of his freshman year. Now, the two spend each day in the weight room, doing pole vault-specific exercises designed to strengthen abs. They spend one day a week practicing actual pole vaulting, but expect to bump that up to three times per week as they prepare for the state championships.
"They have such a good rapport with one another but, at the same time, have two compleatly different personalities," White said. "Mike is one of the most competitive kids I've ever had the pleasure of coaching. All he wants to do is beat his older brother and his older brother won't let it happen."
Tom is tied for 11th in the state and has the best jump on Long Island. Mike has the sixth best jump on Long Island, as of Tuesday, according to milesplit.com.
The two are both looking forward to facing some tough competition at the state championships.
“We’ve jumped at [Ocean Breeze] a few times, so we know what to expect with that,” Tom said. “…I’m not expecting to win. I know that there are some studs from upstate. I’m not hoping to beat them, but I’m hoping to get a personal best.”
Regardless of finish, the state qualifying performance has given the Domozych’s a boatload of confidence headed into the outdoor season.
“It makes you want to get better for the spring season,” Tom said. “I don’t want to be satisfied. I want to get better in the spring and hopefully qualify for nationals by the end of spring.”