Pole vault takes track and field to new heights

Local Sports

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – Events like sprints, hurdles, and relay are often at the forefront of the conversation around track and field. 

But one of the most unique events in the sport occurs off of the track. In fact, it’s played upwards of 15 feet in the air.

The pole vault requires athletes to use a long, flexible pole to help them clear a bar. The vaulter that clears the highest level without knocking the bar off is declared the winner. 

“I saw a bunch of crazy guys jumping over a bar with a stick, and I said I’d like to try that,” said Heritage Hills senior Grant Gogel.

“I love the adrenaline rush,” said South Knox senior Will Staggs. “I love flying. There’s nothing like clearing a bar and falling down and fist pumping after a new PR.”

To clear heights of more than 16 feet like Staggs, who vaulted for a regional record today, it takes serious athleticism. But what’s even more important is mental focus. 

“It’s 99 percent mental, for sure,” Staggs continued. “Because if you’re not mentally set when you’re standing back at the runway, you’re not going to clear the bar.”

“I’ve never really considered myself that much of an athletic person, but just getting over the mental barriers of it have really helped me jump high,” Gogel said.

One part mental, another part physical and a whole lot of physics in between, the unique nature of pole vaulting takes track and field to new heights.

(This story was originally published on May 28, 2021)

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