While pole vaulting is a major part of any high school track and field meet, it was on center stage in the parking lot of First Baptist Church of Kearney this past Saturday, June 25.
More than 30 vaulters from all across Missouri competed in the near eight-hour exhibition to raise funds for Kearney’s track program.
“My daughter and I have gone to street vaults all over, and we decided why not have one of our own? We were hoping for only 25 (vaulters), and we had 33,” said Kearney high school assistant track and field coach Kenny Brown, who organized the event.
Brown’s daughter, Laini, a 2014 Kearney graduate, competed.
“It was awesome,” Kearney track coach Scott Crall said. “We had over 30 competitors ranging from 10 years old to 53 years old. We had a lot of (personal records) from athletes. The winning height was 16 feet, 3 inches from (Kyle Rogers) of Liberty.”
Among those to break personal records was Alex Green of Paris High School in Moberly, who beat his previous best of 8 feet with an 8 feet, 6 inch effort.
“It felt like I could get higher, though,” Green said, adding that while young in age, he is becoming a veteran of the street vaulting community after competing last year at an event in Kentucky.
Green’s vault coach, Aaron Decker, said the exhibition contests give his athletes the opportunity to continuing vaulting competitively even after the high school season has concluded.
“I have been going to street vaults for 15 years,” Decker said. “These are probably the best environments to be in. I like them better than regular track meets myself because the pole vault community is truly a family. It doesn’t matter where you are from or who you are jumping for, everyone is everybody’s friend and everybody’s teammate. … We want to see everyone excel.”
Junior Fairbanks, a 2014 Smithville High graduate, said Saturday was the first time he had vaulted since competing for the Warriors two years ago.
“I got invited to it off of Facebook, and I hadn’t jumped for like two years, so I thought it would be really fun to come out and see what I can do,” said Fairbanks, who just finished his sophomore year at the University of Missouri. “I have never been to a street vault before, so this is a first. It is nice to see old faces, and since it is going to a good cause, it is so much fun.”