Article Comment: "Poll" Is Pole Vaulting Safe? Twitter Discussion Feed Embedded
03/12/2014 4:09:42 AM
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I would think that football is far more dangerous and costly than the pole vault but I raerly see that mentioned as a possibility for removal.
I would think that football is far more dangerous and costly than the pole vault but I raerly see that mentioned as a possibility for removal.
03/12/2014 4:10:38 AM
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I would think that football is far more dangerous and costly than the pole vault but I raerly see that mentioned as a possibility for removal.
I would think that football is far more dangerous and costly than the pole vault but I raerly see that mentioned as a possibility for removal.
03/12/2014 8:04:59 AM
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It appears that the concern is not about the safety to the athlete, it is about the cost of the event in terms of equipment and insurance. I can understand that some schools do not want to pay the cost to have the event and are probably upset that they lose meets due to the points they have lost from not participating in the event. Virginia is behind nationally in producing high vaulting pole vaulters. Virginia seems to top out at 15'0" to 15'6" while nationally, vaulters are up to 17'0" and higher in some cases. A quick glance at milestats records will confirm this fact. "Danger it has for the athletes, spectators, and officials" is this a perceived statement or is this factual? Has anyone compiled the actual damages from pole vaulting in the VHSL and broken the damage out by those categories? I have been involved with pole vaulting only in the last 2 years, and I can report that I have seen good and bad vaults which resulted in minor injuries (much like hurdles or long jump would produce). I am fortunate to report that I have not seen a single official or spectator get injured in the event. I would say that the officials running the event are professional and safety conscience at all times and do not tolerate any horseplaying or dangerous activity to occur on their watch. I have seen one pole break during a meet (state meet at that) where the individual was not injured physically. I think mentally it takes some time to overcome a pole breaking on you while vaulting. That individual is back and vaulting at the heights reached before the pole breaking. The tools used in pole vault are not cheap. However, if taken care of properly, you will get many years of service from them. Mistreat the tools and they break down faster. If Virginia's high schools are to continue to be a feeder system for our colleges, how can we remove such a vital part of the track and field program? Already Virginia High schools are missing out on Javelin, hammer and weight throw that students only get to learn in college or in AAU or USATF meets. Is the VHSL looking to become a relay/running event only in the future? Any one of the field events can cause injury to the athletes or others. Accidents do occur. Not only in pole vault but other events as well. That is why insurance is important. If you do not think accidents can occur, take a look at the 4A Regional Meet 4X400m race where the official was run into after stepping onto the track during the race. Should we ban running events due to the danger of people stepping onto the track accidentally? Personally, I feel the complaint arises more from the schools that do not have and do not wish to pay the initial costs to incorporate pole vault into their program. These same schools realize that they are forfeiting the points from an event that can mean the difference between a win or loss at the end of the day. Pole vaulters are a smaller group than most other events. They should not be penalized/discarded because there are fewer people in the event and they appear easy to pick off or less likely to defend themselves. Our school just purchased new mats. Will the VHSL (if they decide to drop pole vault) reimburse all the schools for their investment in the event? This topic should be dropped from the agenda entirely. If there is no empirical data to support the "danger" to athletes, other than what you perceive as the athlete races down the runway, drops the pole into the box, and soars to heights they never dreamed of reaching. To All Vaulters: Keep following your dreams and stand up for your sport. I am never short of being amazed by your grace on the pole and in the air. VHSL: Keep these kids hopes alive, drop this ridiculous idea and do something to help our vaulters be more competitive at the National Level. Bob Graham
It appears that the concern is not about the safety to the athlete, it is about the cost of the event in terms of equipment and insurance. I can understand that some schools do not want to pay the cost to have the event and are probably upset that they lose meets due to the points they have lost from not participating in the event. Virginia is behind nationally in producing high vaulting pole vaulters. Virginia seems to top out at 15'0" to 15'6" while nationally, vaulters are up to 17'0" and higher in some cases. A quick glance at milestats records will confirm this fact. "Danger it has for the athletes, spectators, and officials" is this a perceived statement or is this factual? Has anyone compiled the actual damages from pole vaulting in the VHSL and broken the damage out by those categories? I have been involved with pole vaulting only in the last 2 years, and I can report that I have seen good and bad vaults which resulted in minor injuries (much like hurdles or long jump would produce). I am fortunate to report that I have not seen a single official or spectator get injured in the event. I would say that the officials running the event are professional and safety conscience at all times and do not tolerate any horseplaying or dangerous activity to occur on their watch. I have seen one pole break during a meet (state meet at that) where the individual was not injured physically. I think mentally it takes some time to overcome a pole breaking on you while vaulting. That individual is back and vaulting at the heights reached before the pole breaking.

The tools used in pole vault are not cheap. However, if taken care of properly, you will get many years of service from them. Mistreat the tools and they break down faster. If Virginia's high schools are to continue to be a feeder system for our colleges, how can we remove such a vital part of the track and field program? Already Virginia High schools are missing out on Javelin, hammer and weight throw that students only get to learn in college or in AAU or USATF meets. Is the VHSL looking to become a relay/running event only in the future? Any one of the field events can cause injury to the athletes or others.

Accidents do occur. Not only in pole vault but other events as well. That is why insurance is important. If you do not think accidents can occur, take a look at the 4A Regional Meet 4X400m race where the official was run into after stepping onto the track during the race. Should we ban running events due to the danger of people stepping onto the track accidentally?

Personally, I feel the complaint arises more from the schools that do not have and do not wish to pay the initial costs to incorporate pole vault into their program. These same schools realize that they are forfeiting the points from an event that can mean the difference between a win or loss at the end of the day.

Pole vaulters are a smaller group than most other events. They should not be penalized/discarded because there are fewer people in the event and they appear easy to pick off or less likely to defend themselves. Our school just purchased new mats. Will the VHSL (if they decide to drop pole vault) reimburse all the schools for their investment in the event? This topic should be dropped from the agenda entirely. If there is no empirical data to support the "danger" to athletes, other than what you perceive as the athlete races down the runway, drops the pole into the box, and soars to heights they never dreamed of reaching.

To All Vaulters: Keep following your dreams and stand up for your sport. I am never short of being amazed by your grace on the pole and in the air. VHSL: Keep these kids hopes alive, drop this ridiculous idea and do something to help our vaulters be more competitive at the National Level.
Bob Graham
03/12/2014 8:27:26 AM
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The issue here is not safety. I've had it confirmed that the issue is some areas of the state with smaller size schools that do not have pole vault are losing points to schools that do have pole vault, who they never had to compete against before reclassification. If you look at the 1A-2A State meet and the 1A-2A East region it should tell you all you need to know.
The issue here is not safety. I've had it confirmed that the issue is some areas of the state with smaller size schools that do not have pole vault are losing points to schools that do have pole vault, who they never had to compete against before reclassification. If you look at the 1A-2A State meet and the 1A-2A East region it should tell you all you need to know.
03/12/2014 8:42:22 AM
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We don't have pole vault in Loudoun County (or indoor track like most of the rest of you). Our schools are in the 3A, 4A, and 5A divisions. I know it does annoy coaches that our teams are at an automatic scoring disadvantage against teams with pole vault, but in my mind, that's an argument for ADDING the event, not taking it away from everyone else. But of course, that takes money, and Loudoun doesn't appear to want to spend money on adding sports (field hockey or indoor track come to mind) or events that require another coach and equipment. Or maybe we parents and coaches haven't made a big enough fuss about it. Or maybe other parents, coaches and ADs don't think it is much of a problem since I don't hear much talk here or at meets about the lack of opportunities in our county for track kids.
We don't have pole vault in Loudoun County (or indoor track like most of the rest of you). Our schools are in the 3A, 4A, and 5A divisions. I know it does annoy coaches that our teams are at an automatic scoring disadvantage against teams with pole vault, but in my mind, that's an argument for ADDING the event, not taking it away from everyone else. But of course, that takes money, and Loudoun doesn't appear to want to spend money on adding sports (field hockey or indoor track come to mind) or events that require another coach and equipment. Or maybe we parents and coaches haven't made a big enough fuss about it. Or maybe other parents, coaches and ADs don't think it is much of a problem since I don't hear much talk here or at meets about the lack of opportunities in our county for track kids.
03/12/2014 9:30:30 AM
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Don't be fooled people. Reasons of safety or liability when it comes to threats of getting rid of the pole vault are usually a cover up or guise for either budget reasons or this recent push has to do with competitive disadvantage for some schools who don't offer pole vault feel exists competing against schools that do offer the pole vault, so they want the VHSL to eliminate that disadvantage. Of the past 13 years I've covered the sport, I've seen way more injuries in other track events than the pole vault. It is important that coaches, athletes, and parents that are pro-pole vault let their voice be heard to their athletic directors and/or principals because as we know many administrators know very little or care about track & field. They are the ones voting and easily being swayed by someone's else perspective or opinion even if it is faulty or not good overall for the sport at these VHSL meetings since many don't know anything about the sport. Inform each of your athletic directors and principals.
Don't be fooled people. Reasons of safety or liability when it comes to threats of getting rid of the pole vault are usually a cover up or guise for either budget reasons or this recent push has to do with competitive disadvantage for some schools who don't offer pole vault feel exists competing against schools that do offer the pole vault, so they want the VHSL to eliminate that disadvantage.

Of the past 13 years I've covered the sport, I've seen way more injuries in other track events than the pole vault.

It is important that coaches, athletes, and parents that are pro-pole vault let their voice be heard to their athletic directors and/or principals because as we know many administrators know very little or care about track & field. They are the ones voting and easily being swayed by someone's else perspective or opinion even if it is faulty or not good overall for the sport at these VHSL meetings since many don't know anything about the sport. Inform each of your athletic directors and principals.
03/12/2014 9:32:59 AM
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runthe8 - Our school does not have an indoor facility either. We do however sport an indoor team. We adapt and use our outdoor facilities on the good days and on the bad days we move indoors to the gym. The only time we see an indoor facility is when we go to invitationals that have the facility. Woodberry Forest, St Christophers, and Boo Williams to name a couple. Sure our kids will complain about the cold on occasion, but if you were to suggest cancelling the indoor season due to the lack of an indoor facility, our kids would be livid. I hope the word gets out and the uproar about pole vault is enough to quash the idea of removing pole vault. I know the word is being spread as I have received emails from folks not in the pole vault group sending me emails to let me know that they received something on Twitter about the issue. I wholeheartedly agree with you that this is more an argument for adding an event not removing an event from the lineup. BobGraham
runthe8 - Our school does not have an indoor facility either. We do however sport an indoor team. We adapt and use our outdoor facilities on the good days and on the bad days we move indoors to the gym. The only time we see an indoor facility is when we go to invitationals that have the facility. Woodberry Forest, St Christophers, and Boo Williams to name a couple. Sure our kids will complain about the cold on occasion, but if you were to suggest cancelling the indoor season due to the lack of an indoor facility, our kids would be livid. I hope the word gets out and the uproar about pole vault is enough to quash the idea of removing pole vault. I know the word is being spread as I have received emails from folks not in the pole vault group sending me emails to let me know that they received something on Twitter about the issue. I wholeheartedly agree with you that this is more an argument for adding an event not removing an event from the lineup.
BobGraham
03/12/2014 9:35:27 AM
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If the concern here is over small schools not having pole vault 1 it's the school districts fault 2 a better solution than denying kids the right to pole vault (and in some cases the right to perhaps life changing scholarships) would be to redistrict. If you complain so much about losing out on points change important meets (regionals) so that teams with pole vault compete against teams with pole vault and teams without pole vault compete against teams without pole vault. Do not take away these kids rights to pole vault. It would be a disgrace to the entire track and field community if this were to happen.
If the concern here is over small schools not having pole vault
1 it's the school districts fault
2 a better solution than denying kids the right to pole vault (and in some cases the right to perhaps life changing scholarships) would be to redistrict. If you complain so much about losing out on points change important meets (regionals) so that teams with pole vault compete against teams with pole vault and teams without pole vault compete against teams without pole vault. Do not take away these kids rights to pole vault. It would be a disgrace to the entire track and field community if this were to happen.
03/12/2014 9:47:05 AM
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@jamiehiegel - Football will never be touched because it is a money maker for the VHSL. Track and Field meets are generally free to the public until you get to the Conference, Section, or State meets. I would hazard a guess that they tend to make enough to cover the hardware they hand out to the kids at these meets but not necessarily enough to pay for the timing and the officials. Hence, track and field is probably a drain on their funds instead of a cash cow for them. Bob Graham
@jamiehiegel - Football will never be touched because it is a money maker for the VHSL. Track and Field meets are generally free to the public until you get to the Conference, Section, or State meets. I would hazard a guess that they tend to make enough to cover the hardware they hand out to the kids at these meets but not necessarily enough to pay for the timing and the officials. Hence, track and field is probably a drain on their funds instead of a cash cow for them.
Bob Graham
03/12/2014 9:48:08 AM
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The VHSL has informed us that the discussion is being brought up in the upcoming meeting tomorrow by the 2A East Region schools (no coincidence being the same region that Maggie Walker is in).
The VHSL has informed us that the discussion is being brought up in the upcoming meeting tomorrow by the 2A East Region schools (no coincidence being the same region that Maggie Walker is in).
03/12/2014 9:54:08 AM
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Yeah Adeline you tell them!!!!!!
Yeah Adeline you tell them!!!!!!
03/12/2014 10:03:44 AM
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@Mile Stat why ban pole vault when more people are injured over hurdles and we already have the supplies necessary so VHSL would be wasting their money. Why is this even taking place who started this discussion?
@Mile Stat why ban pole vault when more people are injured over hurdles and we already have the supplies necessary so VHSL would be wasting their money. Why is this even taking place who started this discussion?
03/12/2014 10:04:08 AM
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@MileStat why ban pole vault when more people are injured over hurdles and we already have the supplies necessary so VHSL would be wasting their money. Why is this even taking place who started this discussion
@MileStat why ban pole vault when more people are injured over hurdles and we already have the supplies necessary so VHSL would be wasting their money. Why is this even taking place who started this discussion
03/12/2014 10:24:23 AM
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@BobGraham Yes, I know that very few have access to an indoor facility for training. I meant that in Loudoun we don't even have an indoor track SEASON! And it does not seem to bother anyone, other than a tiny handful of parents I have spoken with who would like their kids to have the structure and opportunities to compete provided by an official track season. I don't even know if most of the coaches in the county would be supportive of an indoor program- no one pipes up when I post about it here. Possibly they have all accepted that it is not likely to happen and they are just making the best of it.
@BobGraham Yes, I know that very few have access to an indoor facility for training. I meant that in Loudoun we don't even have an indoor track SEASON! And it does not seem to bother anyone, other than a tiny handful of parents I have spoken with who would like their kids to have the structure and opportunities to compete provided by an official track season. I don't even know if most of the coaches in the county would be supportive of an indoor program- no one pipes up when I post about it here. Possibly they have all accepted that it is not likely to happen and they are just making the best of it.
03/12/2014 10:28:51 AM
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I am the head coach of King George HS and I whole heartedly favor the continuation of Pole Vaulting. Bob Graham's views are identical to mine. If you look at the poll results you will see that with skillful coaching and an emphasis on safety pole vaulting is just as safe as an other endeavor. Let's not use the smokescreen of safety to look at the cost of the event which school systems have avoided and now want all others to be compliant with in the name of competition.
I am the head coach of King George HS and I whole heartedly favor the continuation of Pole Vaulting. Bob Graham's views are identical to mine. If you look at the poll results you will see that with skillful coaching and an emphasis on safety pole vaulting is just as safe as an other endeavor. Let's not use the smokescreen of safety to look at the cost of the event which school systems have avoided and now want all others to be compliant with in the name of competition.
03/12/2014 11:14:40 AM
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I think it is very clear that some schools want to get rid of it for reasons related to "competitive balance", and certainly, it doesn't surprise me that it comes from 2A schools. When one school dominates the state entries in that event, with all of the girls entries and all but two of the boys, it definitely creates a competitive imbalance. But lets look at it this way: Pole vault is part of the sport of track & field. Teams may choose to focus on it, or they can ignore it, just like throwing, jumping, hurdling, sprints, distance or relays. I am sympathetic to those schools or those school districts who cannot afford it to support it because of the cost of the event, but that is not sufficient reason to get rid of it. You don't eliminate aspects of other sports because of "competitive imbalance". You wouldn't get rid of hurdles because a school/district couldn't afford to buy hurdles, would you? You either do your best to strengthen your other events to overcome the imbalance, as you might in football...if your quarterback and/or receivers are poor, you strengthen your rushing game or special teams or defense to compensate...or you make arrangements to add the vault to your program. Sometimes this means travelling a bit, or sharing coaches and facilities. We've done it for years, but that is what makes it work sometimes. I noted that in the other state meets, vaulting seems to be more or less thriving, and the spread of competitive balance is fine. There have already been plenty of flaws due to reclassification, I don't believe that we as a sport need to water it down further to the lowest common denominator, meaning if some teams/districts can't vault, then none of them can. That is wrong. Vaulters from our school, as in many across the state, are just as skilled athletes as those in other events. They work just as hard to prepare, and deserve the same chance to compete. They deserve the same opportunity to earn scholarships, and teams who have vaulters, should have the same right to add them into their competitive arsenals. Moreover, for many of us, the money has been spent.....we have invested in pits....we have bought poles...we have athletes who have made it their passion....we have trained coaches. To take it away from everyone, just to please a select few, is wrong. I'm not naive enough to think that part of the argument won't be about cost and safety. Cost is a relative issue, and still affects some differently than others. Safety....it is a dangerous event, but I feel like in VA, most of those who do coach or compete in the vault due a good job in emphasizing safety, and to be perfectly honest, I've seen more injuries occur in running events (ie: hurdles or in sprint relays), than in pole vault. I think that statistics will show that when done correctly, severe injuries have been minimized. It concerns me quite a bit to see how a faction of the VHSL can be so heavily swayed by one division or classification, to the extent that our sport could be fundamentally changed, simply because of the affects of what is occuring within that one (or two) classifications. Perhaps they might admit that this is yet another affect of re-classification, and continue examining potential changes or tweaks to the system, but I am also aware that if it does go, we are not getting it back, either.
I think it is very clear that some schools want to get rid of it for reasons related to "competitive balance", and certainly, it doesn't surprise me that it comes from 2A schools. When one school dominates the state entries in that event, with all of the girls entries and all but two of the boys, it definitely creates a competitive imbalance. But lets look at it this way:

Pole vault is part of the sport of track & field. Teams may choose to focus on it, or they can ignore it, just like throwing, jumping, hurdling, sprints, distance or relays. I am sympathetic to those schools or those school districts who cannot afford it to support it because of the cost of the event, but that is not sufficient reason to get rid of it. You don't eliminate aspects of other sports because of "competitive imbalance". You wouldn't get rid of hurdles because a school/district couldn't afford to buy hurdles, would you? You either do your best to strengthen your other events to overcome the imbalance, as you might in football...if your quarterback and/or receivers are poor, you strengthen your rushing game or special teams or defense to compensate...or you make arrangements to add the vault to your program. Sometimes this means travelling a bit, or sharing coaches and facilities. We've done it for years, but that is what makes it work sometimes.

I noted that in the other state meets, vaulting seems to be more or less thriving, and the spread of competitive balance is fine. There have already been plenty of flaws due to reclassification, I don't believe that we as a sport need to water it down further to the lowest common denominator, meaning if some teams/districts can't vault, then none of them can. That is wrong. Vaulters from our school, as in many across the state, are just as skilled athletes as those in other events. They work just as hard to prepare, and deserve the same chance to compete. They deserve the same opportunity to earn scholarships, and teams who have vaulters, should have the same right to add them into their competitive arsenals. Moreover, for many of us, the money has been spent.....we have invested in pits....we have bought poles...we have athletes who have made it their passion....we have trained coaches. To take it away from everyone, just to please a select few, is wrong.

I'm not naive enough to think that part of the argument won't be about cost and safety. Cost is a relative issue, and still affects some differently than others. Safety....it is a dangerous event, but I feel like in VA, most of those who do coach or compete in the vault due a good job in emphasizing safety, and to be perfectly honest, I've seen more injuries occur in running events (ie: hurdles or in sprint relays), than in pole vault. I think that statistics will show that when done correctly, severe injuries have been minimized.

It concerns me quite a bit to see how a faction of the VHSL can be so heavily swayed by one division or classification, to the extent that our sport could be fundamentally changed, simply because of the affects of what is occuring within that one (or two) classifications. Perhaps they might admit that this is yet another affect of re-classification, and continue examining potential changes or tweaks to the system, but I am also aware that if it does go, we are not getting it back, either.
03/12/2014 12:25:12 PM
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Virginia colleges love Virginia high school vaulters. We hope this issue is dropped quickly. Think of all the greats from Virginia that have represented the state at an NCAA, National, and international level... Lawrence Johnson, Brian Hunter, Kevin Brown, Michael Morrison, etc... and that's just a few of the many, not to mention all the young women. Good luck and we hope to see you vaulting high for years to come. George Mason University
Virginia colleges love Virginia high school vaulters. We hope this issue is dropped quickly. Think of all the greats from Virginia that have represented the state at an NCAA, National, and international level... Lawrence Johnson, Brian Hunter, Kevin Brown, Michael Morrison, etc... and that's just a few of the many, not to mention all the young women. Good luck and we hope to see you vaulting high for years to come. George Mason University
03/12/2014 12:57:50 PM
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@mcgorty - Great to hear from George Mason on the vaulters. I had the pleasure of watching your last chance meet on March 1 and it was awesome to see some of the Virginia Vaulters flying high. There were some pretty impressive vaults happening. Good luck in your outdoor season. Bob Graham
@mcgorty - Great to hear from George Mason on the vaulters. I had the pleasure of watching your last chance meet on March 1 and it was awesome to see some of the Virginia Vaulters flying high. There were some pretty impressive vaults happening. Good luck in your outdoor season.
Bob Graham
03/12/2014 12:57:53 PM
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The discus is far more dangerous than the pole vault. Pretty sure football, baseball, softball, lacrosse, and wrestling are too. This relates to budgets or someone without pole vault facilities lobbying.
The discus is far more dangerous than the pole vault. Pretty sure football, baseball, softball, lacrosse, and wrestling are too. This relates to budgets or someone without pole vault facilities lobbying.
03/12/2014 1:12:52 PM
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Pay close attention to the female athlete in this photo. It is Jackie Meeks, currently coached by Lawrence Johnson (Former Olympic silver medalist, USA indoor record holder, and Virginia pole vaulter). She does not jump high because her school simply has pole vaulting. She jumps high because she has been coached well. These smaller schools do not lose points because they do not have pole vaulting, they do not have pole vaulting because no one in the area has fought for the event and likely even if they got it, their athletes would not be at a level to make or break a state championship. If someone is bad at cross country they do not as for distance running to be removed because they do not have good distance coaches. Virginia has more opportunities to pole vault than a lot of other states. Many high school coaches argue that kids should not have to go to clubs, or maybe should not be allowed to. But the truth is that most high school's do not have enough coaches or enough know how to coach EVERY track and field event at an elite level. That being said, there is always an event or two left un-coached at every school. Pole vault does not make or break a state championship. Occasionally you have the one athlete that is good at everything and they vault as well and win the state title by themselves (Felicia Majors, Mike Morrison), but that is a rare occasion.
Pay close attention to the female athlete in this photo. It is Jackie Meeks, currently coached by Lawrence Johnson (Former Olympic silver medalist, USA indoor record holder, and Virginia pole vaulter). She does not jump high because her school simply has pole vaulting. She jumps high because she has been coached well. These smaller schools do not lose points because they do not have pole vaulting, they do not have pole vaulting because no one in the area has fought for the event and likely even if they got it, their athletes would not be at a level to make or break a state championship. If someone is bad at cross country they do not as for distance running to be removed because they do not have good distance coaches. Virginia has more opportunities to pole vault than a lot of other states. Many high school coaches argue that kids should not have to go to clubs, or maybe should not be allowed to. But the truth is that most high school's do not have enough coaches or enough know how to coach EVERY track and field event at an elite level. That being said, there is always an event or two left un-coached at every school.

Pole vault does not make or break a state championship. Occasionally you have the one athlete that is good at everything and they vault as well and win the state title by themselves (Felicia Majors, Mike Morrison), but that is a rare occasion.

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