Jerry Proudfit won a Class B pole vault state championship in 1952 for West Des Moines Valley. Now 89, Proudfit still has the steel pole he used to clear 11 feet, 8.5 inches, and fond memories of vaulting that year at the Drake Relays.


“There’s no bend to it like the poles (that are) used now,” he said.


Back in Proudfit’s day, if you were good enough to clear the bar, you still had the landing to worry about. Today’s plush mats wouldn’t be invented for decades. Instead, Proudfit and the other competitors landed in piles of sawdust — or sometimes sand.

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