Croatan senior Jacob Boucher, seated center, is signing on to pole vault and play soccer at Division II Barton College. Others in the photo are, left to right: sitting, mother Stacy and father Gery; standing, pole vault coach Bill Hodge, brothers Garrett and Andrew and Principal Kay Zimarino. (Contributed photo)

OCEAN — Croatan alum Jacob Boucher is ready to play not one, but two sports in college.

The soccer standout also had a late interest in pole vaulting, both of which he’ll pursue at Division II Barton College.

“It’s something I was interested in, and I was glad to have (Bill) Hodge to teach me the ropes,” Boucher said.

Hodge is the grandfather of Croatan 2019 alum Brendan Hodge, an eight-time state champion and 2019 pole vault finals runner-up. The two started working together in preparation for the 2019-2020 winter season, Boucher’s pole vault debut.

He placed third in the 1A/2A winter track and field state championship meet with a height of 12 feet, 6 inches and cleared the same height to place second in the only spring track and field meet that took place before the shutdowns resulting from the novel coronavirus.

Boucher was already a college-worthy athlete on the pitch, helping the Cougars finish 14-6-2 overall and 12-2 in the 1A/2A Coastal 8 Conference in 2019. The program reached the second round of the 2A state playoffs and finished the year ranked No. 16 in the classification.

Boucher tallied four goals and nine assists as a midfielder for the team. He put up five goals and 10 assists in a 2018 season shortened by damage from Hurricane Florence. That year, the Cougars finished 12-5-1 overall and 6-1 in the conference, ranked No. 6 in the classification.

“It has been a wild time,” Boucher said. “It was a good four years at Croatan. We did some good things.”

Boucher’s younger brother, Garrett, was also a member of the 2019 varsity team, contributing 24 goals and six assists.

Jacob Boucher was a member of the varsity team three of his four years, including in 2017 when he tallied three goals and six assists. Croatan coach Paul Slater believes he will continue to grow and develop at the next level, with some skills already at his disposal.

“He brings some good things to the table, quick-footed and smart with the ball,” Slater said. “I think a lot of it will depend on what kind of offense (Barton) runs. He started in the defensive back for us, and we moved him to the midfield because of his energy and vision.”

When it came time to decide on Barton, Boucher was looking for an opportunity, and the Bulldogs were offering one.

“I wanted to play at the next level, and this was my best chance,” Boucher said. “It’s a cool campus. I think it’s going to be a good experience.”

Boucher will be joining a Barton men’s soccer program that finished the 2019 season 13-5-1 overall and 7-3 in the Conference Carolinas.

Boucher will look to study business at the college.

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