What do Aurora, McCook and Minden have in common? Each place had high school athletes who now compete for the Nebraska track and field team in pole vault.
Craig Driver competed for Minden High School, while Beau Simmons vaulted for Aurora and Kyle Craw competed for McCook High School. The three were rivals during their high school careers.
Now they compete for the same team.
“Their dedication to the event (got NU recruits’ attention),” coach Kris Grimes said. “You don’t do well in pole vault unless you are extremely dedicated.”
At the 2011 Nebraska Class B State Meet, the three pole vaulters came to compete against each other as opponents for the last time. Driver came out on top, while Simmons placed second, and Craw came in third.
The year before, Simmons beat Driver vaulting 15-2 while Driver was only able to clear 14-10.
“We all used to be pretty big rivals,” Driver said.
That changed when they all decided to pole vault for NU.
They have now been competing on the same team for more than a year now. Even though they still compete against each other, their relationship has evolved.
“It has pretty much reversed itself,” Driver said. “We were definitely not friends before, but now we hang out with each other all the time. It doesn’t matter who wins. As long as one of us does well, we are happy for them.”
The Mark Colligan Memorial meet was a flashback to high school state track.
At the meet, Driver took first with a personal best vault of 16-10 3/4, which ties him for fifth in the Big Ten. Simmons came in after Driver with a personal-best vault of 16-6 3/4. He is currently tied for 15th in the Big Ten. Craw came in sixth with a vault of 14-7-1/4. Freshman Christian Sanderfer placed third with a vault of 15-11. Sandefer went to Lincoln Southwest and competed in Class A track and field.
Driver, Simmons and Craw all redshirted their freshmen year. However, they did compete as unattached athletes at some track meets. This year has been the first season they have competed with each other for the majority of the track meets.
At the Frank Sevigne Husker Invitational, Sandefer led the Huskers at 16-8 finishing third. Driver was sixth with a vault of 16-2, and Simmons was eleventh with a height of 15-8 1/4.
“It depends on the day with who is doing the best,” Driver said. “There is a competitive nature between us wanting to be the best.”
This competitive nature has helped the Huskers pursue greater heights in pole vault this season. Each vaulter has continued to set new personal records at almost every meet.
“All of them are great competitors and great guys,” Grimes said. “Their competitiveness translated great into practice setting.”