The 2012 edition of Pole Vault Explosion is being held in the shadow of the Gateway Arch. The annual 4th of July pole vault competition, in about year number six, is underway in downtown St. Louis, on the river front of the Mighty Mississippi, on the grounds of the Gateway Expansion Memorial Park. The event, directed by former Lindenwood University standout Mark Aschen, was held on the river front of the Missouri River in St. Charles for the several years, in conjunction with the city’s 4th of July celebration. Last year the event moved to Kirkwood, during the Kirkwood’s annual July 4th events. The event will run in conjunction with the annual Fair St. Louis 4th of July celebration in downtown St. Louis.
The event is an all-ages competition that wraps up with an elite competiton, that over the years has drawn some of the the U.S. and world’s best vaulters, including Missouri Olympians Jeff Hartwig and Kellie Suttle.
Today’s events got under way at 7:30 a.m. with approximately 95 athletes entered. There are two women’s groups, three men’s groups, and an elite section. Some of the best high school and college athletes around Missouri and the region are set to compete.
This year’s elite vault is set to begin around 6:00 though the event will use an rolling schedule. The event includes seven athletes who recently competed at the 2012 USA Olympic Track and Field Trials. April Bennett and Mark Hollis are scheduled to compete, both finished 5th at the Trials, just missing spots on the Olympic Team.
The Elite section also features plenty of Missourians. Three former Missouri High School State Track and Field Meet Record setters and NCAA Division I All-Americans are set to compete. One of those is Brian Hancock, the former Monroe City State Champion and University of Missouri All-American who just finished his first year as a graduate assistant coach at Mizzou. Hancock helped guide freshman Katrine Haarkalau to a pole vault school record and NCAA National Championship berth.
The other two are former gymnasts and Class 4 Champions and record setters who are scheduled to be joined in competiton by their college teammates who with they earned All-American honors. Vera Neuenswander went undefeated in the pole vault at Jefferson City High School. Only an illness her sophomore year kept her from the opportunity to join former teammate, sprinter Domenik Peterson on the list of handful of four-time same event Missouri State Champions. Neuenswander set the Class 4 State Meet mark of 12-1 in 2006, a week after clearing 12-5 at sectionals and a few days after clearing a 13-0 bunjie in practice.
Neuenswander went on to a stellar career at Indiana University where she was the Division I Outoor runner-up in 2009 and the 4th place finisher in 2011. Her teammate Kelsie Ahbe joined her in earning All-American honors at the 2011 meet with a 6th place finish. In her first post-collegiate season, Neuenswander qualified for the Olympic Trials were she was one of 12 athletes unable to clear opening height. Both are scheduled to compete.
Neuenswander’s Class 4 State Meet Record was eclipsed in 2009 by Rockwood Summit senior Bethany Buell, who cleared 12-2. Buell competes now for South Dakota University, and coach Derek Miles who earned his second straight Olympic berth at the Trials last week. Buell cleared a personal record of 14-5.25 at the NCAA meet last month to place third and earn her first All-American trophy in her second straight NCAA Outdoor Meet. Buell cleared the opening height of 13-11.25 to finish 15th at the Olympic Trials. Buell’s freshman teammate Emily Grove placed 7th at the NCAA meet clearing 13-11.25, and qualified for the Olympic Trials, though was unable to clear opening height.
Lee’s Summit West’s Brittany Kallenberger smashed the Missouri State Meet Record this year, clearing 12-10. Kallenberger also captured the high jump title and will take up the combined events at The University of Central Missouri for Kip Janvrin next year.
Another familiar face at the competition will be Jason Scott. Scott is an assistant coach as Hannibal La Grange College in Hannibal. Scott was a three-time NAIA National Champion at Cedarville College.
Entries and Groups: http://www.polevaultexplosion.com/#!vault-groups/c1wr
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Group I Check-In
Women’s Group I Start
Men’s Group I Check-In
9:00 Men’s Group I Warm-up
9:30 Men’s Group I
10:00 Men’s Group II Check-In
11:00 Men’s Group II
11:30 Men’s Group II Start
12:00 Women’s Group II Check-In
1:00 Women’s Group
1:30 Women’s Group
2:00 Men’s Group III
3:00 Men’s Group
3:30 Men’s Group
Music on Main Stage