Tropical pole vaulting coming to Dauphin Street on Saturday

MOBILE, Alabama – The third annual Dauphin Street Vault is coming up Saturday, Aug. 10, and organizers say it’s going to be more action-packed than ever.

For starters, there are two pits this time, instead of one. And more than 100 vaulters have signed up, including some of the best in the country.

“Imagine a super-energetic block party with people doing what seems impossible,” said organizer Drew Bentley, the track and field coach at McGill-Toolen Catholic High School for 16 years.

The sport “exposes the human limits,” he said. “When you see it on TV, it does not do it justice. When you see a good pole-vaulter in real life, it is awe-inspiring.”

The landing pits will be set up at Heroes Sports Bar & Grill at the corner of Dauphin and Jackson streets, and at T.P. Crockmiers at Dauphin and Joachim streets. The vaulters will get started about 10 a.m., and as the day goes on, the competition ramps up. The elite athletes will compete about 5 p.m., Bentley said.

Spectators are asked to bring their own lawn chairs, or at least something to sit on, because there aren’t any bleachers.

Among the big names to watch, Bentley said, are Louisiana state champion Devin King, who just competed at the IAAF World Youth Championships in Ukraine; and Dylan Duvio, who will represent Team USA in the Pan American competition in Medellin, Columbia, Aug. 23-25.

Kovey Simmons of Southeastern Louisiana University won the 2012 Dauphin Street Vault with a 17-foot vault, and he’ll be back to defend his title, as will Morgann Leleux, the DSV’s woman’s defending champion and record holder at 14 feet. Leleux, who is also the national high school female record holder, competes for the University of Georgia. Catherine Street of Linfield College, the reigning NCAA Division III indoor pole vault champ, will also compete.

Records will fall, Bentley predicted: “We have some surprise guys coming down that people don’t know about.”

Local favorites in the event include Neal Tisher, a graduate of St. Paul’s Episcopal School, who just graduated from Ole Miss; Chanel Krause, also a St. Paul’s graduate and the current Alabama high school record holder (for indoors); Margaret Ollinger, a McGill-Toolen student and the indoor and outdoor state record holder in the 6A division; and Nick Farrell, a graduate of McGill-Toolen and an indoor Sun Belt Conference champion at the University of South Alabama. Farrell is one of three vaulters from the state of Alabama to have cleared 16 feet.

The Dauphin Street Vault is a family-friendly event, but there is one aspect of the sport you really don’t want to see, Bentley warned, and that would be what vaulters call “the death roll.”

That’s when the athlete goes up, runs out of steam, and finds himself with his feet over his head, hooked onto the crossbar, looking down at the pit and hoping he won’t miss it and hit the pavement.

Fortunately, that doesn’t happen too often. “I hate to use the words ‘death’ and ‘pole vault’ in the same sentence,” said Bentley, a former vaulter himself. “It’s pretty safe.”


Dauplin Vaulter Magazine
Dauplin Vaulter Magazine

Leave A Comment