As I stepped into the stadium in Brandon to shoot the Brandon Valley Invitational, I saw something I hadn’t seen in years of covering track meets there.
The pole vault.
It had been 23 years since pole vault was last competed in the city of Brandon, and their track had not been built with a pole vault pit. But a little ingenuity and some hard work resulted in a temporary pole vault pit, which was placed in the middle of the football field.
True, it wasn’t perfect. The runway was a little narrow and the surface that covered it flew up at least once on the blustery April day, but it was a pole vault pit.
It’s been 15 years since girls first were given the opportunity to pole vault in the state of South Dakota.
At the time, all four Sioux Falls schools and Brandon Valley had dropped the event, as had many other smaller schools. Now the vault is back in the Sioux Falls area, and South Dakota vaulters are continuing to thrive.
The resurgence of the pole vault can only be helped by what is going on right now in Vermillion. The University of South Dakota — bolstered by two-time Olympic pole vaulter Derek Miles — has put together one of the best collection of pole vaulters in the college ranks.
The Coyotes had a pair of redshirts vault high enough to earn Olympic Trials bids during the winter, and sophomore Bethany Buell has already broken her own school record in the outdoor season.
Let’s enjoy watching these athletes continue to fly even higher.
BY JAMES D. CIMBUREK