Pole vaulting requires speed, strength good technique


by Erich Bogner, Sports Reporter

INDIANOLA, Iowa — In the most basic description, pole vaulting is like doing high jump with a really big stick.

“It starts as a regular run down the runway,” junior Audrey LoVan said. “It’s slightly different than regular running though because you’re supposed to stand a lot taller instead of the forward lean you see with sprinters. You can’t use your arms, obviously, because you have the pole.

“So you’re running straight up and down instead of doing the hips to lips motion. Then you essentially put all of your force against this stationary hole in the ground and you take the pole and you’re trying to swing up and jump at the same time.”

LoVan said you pull and push yourself off the pole at the top and that the goal is to get inverted. She said it’s hard for beginners to get the hang of inversion.

LoVan said the three most important parts of pole vault are speed, strength and good technique.

She started pole vaulting as a freshman at Simpson and originally got interested in it after seeing pole vaulting at the Drake Relays while she was in high school. She said her background in gymnastics and cheerleading helps her control her body while she’s in the air.

“My favorite part about pole vaulting is the excitement,” LoVan said. “You don’t really notice that you’re in the air, but you’re in the air and you have this freedom almost. It feels like you’re flying.”

LoVan’s listed outdoor personal best is 2.95 meters or roughly 9.7 feet.

Senior Mitch Stoltzman compared the way pole vaulters vault to being launched from a catapult and said it can be difficult to learn because most people are not accustomed to being catapulted through the air.

Stoltzman started pole vaulting in seventh grade in Minnesota where they have it below the college level. He said from seventh grade through high school, they had to wear helmets while pole vaulting, but in college they are not required to.

The all-time Division III record for pole vault is over 17 feet, and Stoltzman’s personal best is 14 feet 4 1/4 inches.

“It’s a huge adrenaline rush,” Stoltzman said. “From practice to competing, it’s all a rush to tell you the truth. I broke a pole last year when I was competing and it was a whole new experience for me. It was like a shotgun going off in my ear. My ears buzzed for probably three or four hours after it happened. It was crazy.”

He said for someone to be a good vaulter, they have to be good at sprinting, have a lot of upper body strength and a strong core for when they get inverted.