Young pole vaulters learn craft at camp


In the top photo, Marysville High School head track and field coach Luke Sundermeier (left) instructs youngsters how to step while handling pole vault equipment during a camp this week. With hair flying, Kelsey Murphy, in the picture to the right, lands on a smaller pole vault pad during a drill at this week’s Marysville youth camp.

(Journal-Tribune photos by Tim Miller)


It is one of the more interesting events in the sport of track and field.

It is an event that requires so many things to go correctly in order to achieve success.

It involves such things as getting steps down, getting a good grip and catapulting one’s self high in the air.

It is the pole vault.

It is not an event that is for everyone.

However, when it’s done properly, it’s an exciting event to watch.

Marysville High School head track and field coach Luke Sundermeier spent a couple of nights this week grooming potential future Monarch vaulters.

He held a pole vault camp on Wednesday and Friday, teaching youngsters ages nine and up the finer points of the event.

A total of nine youngsters participated in the camp on Wednesday evening.

“We feel we may have a few more on Friday,” said Sundermeier.

There may not be a better instructor around as Sundermeier competed in the pole vault while a student-athlete at Heidelberg University. He is also a certified pole vault intstructor, which all high school programs need in order to compete in an event that does carry some risk.

“The risk is there,” admitted Sundermeier in talking about athletes flying into the air a number of feet off the ground. “However, it’s just like tackling in football.

“Once you know how to tackle or vault properly, you can eliminate a lot of that risk.”

Sundermeier was assisted in the camp by current Lady Monarch vaulter Mary Calvert and MHS grad Kathleen Kennedy, who currently holds the school’s girls’ vault record of 10-9.

“This camp was basically Mary’s idea,” said Sundermeier. “We weren’t able to do some of our other summer events for the youth because of the stadium project.

“She thought this would be a good idea to get some younger kids interested in the event,” he said. “Mary (who is also an MHS varsity gymnast) has coached some of these kids in gymnastics as well.

“Kathleen is taking her time to volunteer here a couple of nights this week after she gets off work,” said Sundermeier. “Both she and Mary wanted to give back to the program.”

Youth vaulters worked on smaller pads with shorter poles on grassy areas of the high school grounds.

They were, however, also instructed in how to use the taller poles for the event.

“We taught them the proper grip on the poles, getting their steps down on the runway, planting the pole at the end of the runway and getting the proper bend in the pole,” said Sundermeier.     

The Monarch coach said there are a number of factors that go into making a good vaulter.

“It’s an event that requires both speed and strength, along with someone who is willing to learn everything that’s needed to become a good vaulter,” he said.

“We’ve also found that vaulters are also very versatile athletes,” said Sundermeier. “They are athletes who can compete in a number of events, including the long jump, hurdles, sprints and middle distance races.”

The Monarch coach was asked what he hoped youngsters took away from the two-day session.

“I hope they realize that there are events such as the pole vault that can be fun and in which they can enjoy competition,” said Sundermeier.

“Pole vaulters have a lot of fun,” he said. “However, when it comes down to business, they always get the work done.”


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