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The City Journals

Pole vaulting community cheers state record break

May 20, 2019 02:32PM ● By Greg James

Pole-vault is a growing sport within Utah high school track and field. (Justin Adams/The City Journals)

By Greg James | [email protected] 

Up until four or five years ago, there was no girls pole vault. Copper Hills’ Brielle Davis is on pace to smash its state records now that it does exist.

“Hannah Stetler from Bingham held the record until recently, but Brielle Davis is a freshman who has been jumping a year and is learning fast,” Utah Pole Vault Academy Director Kody Pierce said. “She is a freshman and is very special. I have high expectations for her in the coming state meets.”

At a recent meet, Riverton’s Robbie Walker cleared 16 feet 3 inches to break a state record that has stood since 1995. It’s a culmination of his continued hard work and the help of specific trainers.

“Robbie has trained with us for several years,” Pierce said. “He is a good athlete. We say he has great hops. He is a hard worker. He committed himself and had the state record in mind for a couple of years.”

Walker jumped over 15 feet last season as a junior. His teammate Trent James went higher than him and offered some good healthy competition.

“I think he saw what he could do and knew he had this year to train to reach the state record,” Pierce said. “He has worked his butt off.” 

Pole vault has only been a track scoring event for girls and boys in smaller classifications for five years. Some schools did not even own the equipment until recently. 

“I was in the same boat as most of these kids,” Pierce said of his high school track days. “No one really knew anything about pole vaulting. I recruited a buddy to help and have figured it out. Since then, I have traveled all over the country and have learned to be a better coach. The pole vault world is pretty tight-knit. We help each other and want to see the sport grow.”

Pole vault technique and training can be specific.

(Justin Adams/The City Journals)

 

“It can be a fun sport that you can come and do just in the spring season, but to be like a Robbie Walker, you need to put in the time,” Pierce said. “They are the ones that get the higher marks. We have athletes of all skills and ages. Gymnasts make great jumpers; speed strength and agility are important. A good pole vaulter will be one of the best athletes on the track. He may not be the fastest but one of. They need to be strong and jump well.”

As Walker cleared the bar on his record attempt, cheers erupted. Students from several different schools gathered to congratulate him.

Several athletes will try to set personal records as the season comes to a close.

West Jordan’s boys team finished second at the Region 3 championships. Mason Baker won the high jump region championship, and Onesi Ngalo holds one of the states top distances in the shot put this season. The Copper Hills boys placed fourth in region, slightly behind Riverton. Cameron Farley could be a contender at state in the high jump.

The Lady Grizzlies placed third overall behind Camila Andam’s top finishes in the 100 meter and long jump. Davis is expected to battle for a state title in the pole vault.

“There are no boundaries,” Pierce said. “These athletes love the pole vault. It doesn’t matter what school you are from. Him (Walker) breaking the record was cool. There are plenty of opportunities for kids to move on to collegiate teams.” 

The Utah State track meet took place May 16–18 at BYU (after press deadline).

The Pole Vault Association is open year round and encourages youth to participate. Its indoor facility in Riverton even hosted a pole vault event this spring when the weather rained out a weekend track meet.

“We have 40 to 50 kids that participate with us regularly,” Pierce said. “It depends on the time of year. We have several schools that do not have a pole vault coach. We want to help all the kids that need it.”