Former Big Ten champion Chet Clodfelter won his second-straight USA Masters Outdoor Track & Field Championship in the pole vault recently.
Clodfelter, owner of Greencastle Physical Therapy, won the 45-49 age group at the Olathe, Kan. event, vaulting 14-5 1/4. His vault matched last year’s winning height and tied for the highest at the event, regardless of age.
“It’s a lot of fun to meet some of the past athletes,” Clodfelter said.
Clodfelter was a star prep athlete at North Putnam, then continued his career at Purdue where he won the 1985 Big Ten championship.
He continued his career sporadically after college then hung up his pole in 1991. Five years ago, Clodfelter’s college coach called him and encouraged him to get back into competition.
“My track coach from Purdue, Noel Ruebel, was emailing me and enticed me to get back into doing some decathlons,” Clodfelter said. “That was a lot of fun. I didn’t train to really do good, but I went out on a whim and did that with him and started competing again.”
Clodfelter began competing again in decathlons and performed well with virtually no training. When he started focusing on that, he started getting wins.
“That’s the challenge,” he said. “I meet (vaulting friends) once a week or once every other week and try to stay in shape.”
Now, he’s on the road most weekends, traveling and competing in street-vaults where vaulters set up pits and hold contests and exhibitions for all ages.
Masters-level competitors interact with high schoolers, college kids and post-college kids still trying to make the Olympics.
He was in Fort Wayne this weekend, Kokomo three weeks ago and has a trip planned to Henderson, Ky.
With back-to-back national titles in his pocket, Clodfelter, 49, is now turning his focus to the 50-and-over world record of 15-8, which he is hoping to set at next year’s nationals.
His career best, set during his Purdue career, is 17-8 1/2.
“With family life, it’s a lot harder to get out there and compete,” Clodfelter said. “The meets are another six weeks. Then I’ll take that time off and start training again for next year.”
While it is tough to find time to train between work and family responsibilities, he is hoping to turn up the intensity for a big push at next year’s championship.
In addition to his career as a physical therapist he also assists with the DePauw track team. This year he also helped coach his daughter Kayla, entering her junior year at North Putnam, to a Putnam County championship.
Other Hoosiers to pick up wins at the event were Brenda Babits (Fort Wayne) in the 50-54 pole vault, Gary Hunter (Fort Wayne) in the 55-59 pole vault, Matthew McCubbins (South Bend) in the 40-44 high jump, Danelle Readinger (Terre Haute) in the 35-39 hurdles and Karen Rieger (Indianapolis) in the 45-49 pole vault.