On a windy Sunday at the Lillibridge Track Complex, where USF was hosting the USF Open track meet, Reid Ehrisman was focusing on a 40-meter runway on the edge of the infield.
The meet had brought together five NSIC schools and Dakota State, but the runway was almost solely populated by Cougars, who dotted the edges to cheer their teammates on, worked to keep the event running and sprinted down the runway while gripping a long pole, pumping their arms, lifting their knees and trying to fling themselves over a bar that looks a bit too high to be safe.
In terms of team size and resources devoted, USF has become nothing less than a pole vault powerhouse in Division II.
The Cougars had more vaulters than any other NSIC team compete in the conference indoor track and field championships in February, placing three women and four men in the top five finishers of their respective events.
This spring, USF is even stronger in the event, returning Courtney Crandall, Jagger Gran and Scott Greenman from redshirts. Crandall currently has the top mark in Division II, Gran is a former national champion and Greenman’s 16-foot, 11-inch clearance is third-best in Division II this season, just short of automatically qualifying him for the national championships.