Pole Vault Junkies Get Socially Distant In Intrasquad Meets

Every pole vaulter knows that in order to improve your vaulting technique and vault higher, you need to vault, but due to the inconvenience of the canceled 2020 track and field season, many pole vaulters across the nation lost that opportunity to vault onto a runway. However for the Pole Vault Junkies, a track and field club in Champaign, Illinois run by Bryan Carrel (Head Coach), it is a whole different experience.

With the ability to be able to pole vault in a safe environment, while taking the precautions necessary, many athletes from young ages all the way up to high school are able to improve their vault technique on an actual runway at The Pole Vault Junkies, unlike many others.

Though it is very unfortunate that the 2020 track and field season was canceled, many of these pole vaulters involved within the club were able to participate in a socially distant intrasquad meet. In their first socially distant meet on July 4, they had ten girls and seven boys vaulters involved in a friendly competition. 

The Pole Vault Junkies, in such a small meet showed huge accomplishments made by incoming senior Rhiannon Held, who was one of the top Illinois vaulters this past year, and will now be moving to Georgia for her senior year of high school. Held ended the day clearing 12'6" (3.76m) just missing 13'0, while also taking the lead girls' jump of the meet. The next highest girls' vaulter was Carolyn-Paige Breit, The University of Wisconsin Commit from Downers Grove North. Breit catapulted over 11'6" (3.52) to take the second spot. Paige-Breit or CP as many call her, started the day in the high jump competition prior to pole vaulting, and leaped a solid 5'2" (1.57m) on her last attempt in only her first year high jumping. 

On the boys' side, we saw an unofficial IL #1 vault and US #6 vault of 16'6" (5.08m) vaulted by Urbana High School graduate, Tyler Carrel. After not being able to compete for a while, Tyler was ready to compete this year, and it shows how far he has come. Carrel took an attempt at 17'0 (5.20m) and just clipped the bar for a miss at a possible unofficial US #2 vault.

Not only did the meet involve some top pole vault marks, but the meet included a high-quality high jump competition. One of the most notable performances was from CJ Shoaf of Mahomet-Seymour, a national level rising high jump star. Shoaf finished the day in the high jump with a clearance of 6'3" (1.96m). The incoming senior cleared an impressive 6'10" at the beginning of the 2020 indoor season and will look to hopefully reach that 7'0" barrier in the future to come. 

As mentioned before, not being able to vault or jump into a pit is hard for many jumpers, so as Bryan Carrel said, being able to "bring back a sense of normalcy for the kids, and give the kids a chance to get some marks after missing the season, and have fun," was the main purpose for hosting these small intrasquad meets. He also included that the meet was very successful because "the kids had fun and several PRs were achieved after just a few short weeks of practice," which is amazing to see how this experience has made a positive impact on all the athletes. 

Because of the success from the first meet of the summer session, the Pole Vault Junkies, about a month later, hosted another socially distant successful meet on August 2nd. 

Taking the top spot of the day for the girls was rising pole vault star, Shaelin Ruzich, an incoming senior from Mahomet-Seymour. Ruzich ended the day with a clearance of 12'0' (3.66m), which is her new PR that she also cleared last week at the Illinois Meet of Champions. Right behind her was Carolyn-Paige Breit who took second with a vault of 11'7" (3.53m). In the high jump, CP also took the top spot with a jump of 5'2" (1.59m).

Another strong performance in the pole vault was once again shown by Tyler Carrel. Carrel only vaulted from a 4-step, which is considered a shorter approach, and ended the day vaulting 15'2" (4.65m).

Coach Carrel believes these small intrasquad meets are beneficial in the athlete's performances because there is "less pressure" and "the events are more fun with travel, music, and being around elite athletes." He is hopeful that towards the end of the summer session it is possible that they will be hosting another "series with a championship meet at the end."