|Pemberville street vault one of a kind|
|Written by By MIKE GODFREY Sentinel Sports Writer|
|Monday, 17 August 2009 11:28|
PEMBERVILLE - Don't look now, but Wood County is quickly becoming the epicenter of pole vaulting in Ohio.
With three state champions over the last three years - Eastwood's Ryan McKibben in 2006, North Baltimore's Amanda Hotaling in 2009, and Eastwood's Crosby Schemenauer in 2009 - as well as state titles won by Otsego brothers Travis, Shaun, and Drew Downey over the past 15 years, this area is well regarded in Ohio.
Further bolstering the area's vaulting prowess is the Pemberville Street Vault, the only street vault held in Ohio this year. Envisioned by Eastwood's associate head track coach Brian Sabo five to six years ago, the street vault, held on the final day of the Pemberville Free Fair behind Pemberville Elementary School, has drawn 60 vaulters each of the past two years.
"There are so many different things at the Pemberville Fair, I thought it would be great if we could do a street vault," said Sabo, a former BGSU vaulter. "I thought what another great way to just expose track and field and to expose people to the pole vault and have a little competition."
Concurring, Terry McKibben, an Eastwood teacher and University of Findlay vaulting coach who co-chairs the event with Sabo, said, "The big thing is to increase exposure for the sport. The other thing is to give the athletes motivation to continue vaulting through the summer to get better for the following season. What little money we make from this we pour back into the vaulting for the vaulters in this area, buying new poles and equipment."
For vaulting purists, the coed event attracts some of the premier vaulters in Ohio and Michigan witnessed by the fact that seven former state champions as well as two All-Americans competed Saturday. In the open men's division alone, 13 of the 22 entrants had cleared over 15 feet during their careers with Logan Lynch of Michigan State, having gone 17-1.
Yet, for all their success, vaulters, whether they are middle school, high school, or open competitors, display a genuine sportsmanship. These competitors, like in no other sport, clap, congratulate, encourage, and assist their rivals during the competition.
"It's a very big fraternity-sorority," added Sabo, who like many coaches assists any vaulter. "They all want to see good heights; they all want to see good jumps. It's one big massive support."
Besides attracting big time jumpers, the Pemberville Street Vault is attended by top vaulting coaches who appreciate the environment and the quality of the competition.
Former Ohio State University pole vault coach, Dave Garcia, said, "It brings in athletes and everyone's going to be here and I like that. This one has taken off. This is a good set-up (with two runways). They've got the magic formula, and they know not to tamper with a gem."
Molly Bartkiewicz, from Westlake who claimed the open women's division title with a vault of 12-6, just missed her personal record of 13-1 but found the event laid back and enjoyable.
"I just think it's a fun meet," said Bartkiewicz, one of three women entrants, who had cleared 13 feet. "I think I did well. Of course, I'd have liked to have PR'd."
Besides the two elevated runways, constructed two days prior to the event, athletes have the opportunity to further their abilities after each jump. In fact, eight vaulters garnered their PR Saturday.
"We've got video cameras on each take-off area being recorded onto DVR's," said McKibben. "The athletes, after they jump, can go back and take a look at their vaults for instant feedback to help them improve and jump higher here."
Kassie Powell, a 15-year-old who was Michigan's Division III state champion last year, won this year's girl's high school title with a vault of 11-6, said, "(The facility) is so nice. The runways are so fast; I love them."
Bellevue's Lee Miller, the 2007 Ohio state champion, nearly cleared 16-6 and was pleased with his win in the open men's competition where the meet record of 17-2 was established last year.
"It's pretty good coming out and hitting 16 (feet) before the season begins," said Miller, a vaulter at Tiffin University.
|Last Updated on Monday, 17 August 2009 10:50|
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