When Bret Myers, a 2010 Big Walnut High School graduate, failed to make the state track and field meet in the pole vault his senior year, coach and father Eric Myers had some words for him.
“I told him he’s got better things in front of him,” the elder Myers said, “and that he’s just got to keep working if that’s what he wants.”
It was advice he apparently took to heart as he wrapped up his second year at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich., as an All-American.
“I came in this season and set my goals high,” Myers said. “I wanted to go out and prove to myself that if I was going to focus on just vaulting that I could play with the best competitors in Division II in the nation.
“I was happy with how it went and how it all came together. It all started clicking in the end.”
Recruited as a multi-event athlete, Myers originally was a heptathlete during the indoor season and a pentathlete during the outdoor season along with pole vaulting.
“It ran me into the ground a little bit,” he said. “I was always fighting injuries. One of the biggest things I’ve been about is being healthy through my season.”
Myers sat out his freshman outdoor season to recuperate, and Lakers pole vault coach Lou Andreadis came to him with a deal.
“He knew he could train at a high level in one event, just not 10 events,” Andreadis said. “So I said, ‘If you stay healthy we’ll vault only. But you have to vault over 16 feet to make it worth the while.’ He certainly jumped to his potential.”
The increased concentration in the pole vault was evident in Myers’ accomplishments over the last year — he certainly made it worth his coach’s while, clearing 16 feet at seven meets.
Myers cleared 16-4 3/4 to take fifth place and earn All-American honors at the NCAA Division II Indoor National Championships held March 9 and 10 at Minnesota State, Mankato.
At the Outdoor National Championships held May 24-26 at Colorado State-Pueblo, Myers cleared 16-2 3/4 for third place and another All-American award while scoring seven of Grand Valley’s eight team points to lead the Lakers to a tie for 28th.
Along with his NCAA honors, Myers was named an indoor and outdoor Division II All-American by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
During the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Indoor Championships held Feb. 24 and 25 at the University of Findlay, Myers took second (16-2 1/2). His first-place vault of 16-4 3/4 led the Grand Valley men’s team’s sweep of the top four spots at the Outdoor Championships held May 2-4 at GVSU.
“I was proud of all our guys,” he said. “Everybody stepped up big.”
Myers set his personal best of 16-7 1/2 on May 11 during the home Second to Last Chance Meet.
“Up in Michigan, we don’t get a lot of great days,” Andreadis said. “But it was a sunny day, a nice tailwind from behind. It was the third meet at our brand new track. He was ready to jump.”
Because of redshirting in spring 2011, Myers has two years of eligibility remaining for the indoor season and three for the outdoor season. He is careful to keep his goals in line with his personal growth and not where he finishes or what accolades he earns.
“It’s not necessarily where I place at the national meet,” he said. “It’s how much I improve as a jumper. I want to beat my personal best and I want to break the 17-foot barrier. If I put in the work and reach my goals then nationals will fall into place.”
His father remembers a different attitude after the NCAA outdoor meet.
“He said, ‘I want it all. I want to win it,’ ” Eric said. “So he’ll be back.”
by: John Reidenbaugh