Vermillion, S.D.–Thousands of pole vaulters, from junior high kids to Olympians, will congregate at the National Pole Vault Summit in Reno, Nev., this weekend. Among them will be USD assistant coachDerek Miles and the South Dakota pole vault crew.
The Summit will provide a unique experience for the team, allowing them to go to a meet focused solely on the pole vault. In the past, world-best marks were made at the Summit. This year’s meet will include the reigning Olympic gold medalist on the men’s side and several past Olympic medalists on the women’s. Miles won the Summit multiple times on the climb to his first of three Olympic games.
“This is a great opportunity for athletes who are in love with their sport and want to be immersed in it,” said Miles.
“Even though this weekend’s marks will not count towards qualifying for the NCAA meet, jumping high should help boost confidence as we get into the indoor season.”
In addition to coaching up the Coyotes, Miles is one of three featured speakers at the event. Long-time Fresno State head coach Bob Fraley and former Olympian Erica Bartolina are also slated to speak Friday.
Nine Coyotes will compete in Saturday’s collegiate competition including senior Bethany Firsick, who captured South Dakota’s first Division I national championship in the event last June. Junior teammate Emily Grove is a returning All-American as well. Sophomore Madison Mills, who competed at the NCAA West Preliminary Round, hails from Reno and competed four times at the Summit in high school.
“The Summit is the first place that I ever jumped over a crossbar,” said Mills. “I had just started vaulting in the summer heading into my freshman year and it was one of the first meets on our schedule.”
Mills and her teammates learned in the middle of the fall that they would be traveling with Miles to Reno.
“My parents, my brother and some family friends have been asking when they would have an opportunity to watch me compete, and they are all excited that I will be home for this.
“The elite competition that goes on Friday night is always fun to watch. They have some of the best vaulters in the circuit competing. It’s really exciting to watch them before you jump. It gets you motivated to go out and perform.”
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