Vaulters climbing to new heights

  • Article by: DAVID LA VAQUE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 14, 2013 - 2:19 PM

Lakeville South’s Lee Bares, Blake’s Grant Krieger and Buffalo’s Mitch Valli are on a quest to push the state pole vault record to 17 feet and above.

Lakeville South pole vaulter Lee Bares bounded down the runway toward a state record last Tuesday, urged on by more than 100 fellow track and field athletes clapping in unison.

Four hours into a vault competition that lasted until twilight, Bares soared over the bar set at 15 feet, 9 inches. The crowd in Lakeville roared as he came down, bounced up from the landing pit, threw his helmet in the air and hugged family and friends.

Then the senior grounded himself in reality of one of the most unusual pole vaulting seasons in years, and not just because of the weather.

Two other seniors — two-time Class 1A champion Grant Krieger of Blake and Mitch Valli of Buffalo — also boast personal bests of 15-9 or higher, though both did so outside of high school competition. All three are friendly rivals who plan to continue pushing the bar upward in hopes of topping 17 feet before the state meet is over.

“We’ve talked about how we’re going to chase down the state record; it’s going to be in one of our names this year,” said Bares, winner of the past two Class 2A championships. “For now, it’s in my name.”

Bares and Krieger, both former gymnasts, first picked up poles not by choice but by circumstance.

Bares said his father, David, told him over dinner that he signed up the then-sophomore for the event and overruled Bares’ objections. Krieger, a skinny seventh-grader facing the prospects of a grueling sprint workout, opted for pole vault.

Valli began “vaulting” at age 4, using PVC pipe for a pole to clear a broomstick held aloft by bricks. His stepfather, Paul Herda, coached MIAC vaulters at St. John’s. Bored with baseball, Valli believed his interest piqued the night Herda suggested he try pole vault.

Valli said watching from the grandstand as Bares and Krieger won their first state titles in 2011 provided the incentive he needed to join them in competition last spring. Valli finished tied for fourth in the Class 2A event but upped the ante a few weeks later by vaulting 15-9 at the USATF Minnesota Junior Olympic Championships in Eagan with Bares and Krieger on hand.

Krieger took the lead in March with a vault of 16-1¼ at the New Balance Indoor Nationals in New York.

Bares’ mark of 15-9, set at a True Team section meet, renewed his peers’ competitive zeal.

“I was like, ‘Finally,’ ” Valli said. “That’s just what we needed — one person to break the record, because after that it’s going to be a battle. It’s going to go back and forth with all three of us.”

Bares and Krieger vault together in the offseason at Fuzion Athletics. Valli trains alone with Herda at Zero Gravity vault club based out of his grandparents’ company warehouse in Buffalo. By coincidence, Herda used to compete against Jim Wolter, Bares’ vault coach at Lakeville South, in master’s level pole vault events.

Valli said pole vaulting is “100 percent muscle memory when you get in the air because it’s so fast.” He described the airborne sequence as “lift, lock, leap” as he finds himself along for the ride.

Training together across the nation created bonding opportunities. Bares and Krieger vaulted in Oklahoma while Krieger joined Valli in Nevada. Separated by different classes and long distances through much of the high school season, the trio enjoyed competing together in April at the Hamline Elite Meet.

“We were laughing and cracking jokes in the middle of the competition,” Krieger said. Bares won with a vault of 15 feet while Krieger and Valli did not post a qualifying mark. “Part of it is that vaulters in general are crazy, outgoing people. Part of it is that all three of us have developed a close relationship.”

Vaulting, the trio agreed, satisfies their adrenaline fix. By 10 years old, Krieger won titles on the national Kart racing circuit at speeds approaching 100 miles per hour. Bares agreed to join the Lakeville South swimming and diving program with the condition that his father allow him to go cliff jumping. Valli was a varsity wide receiver and punt returner for the past two seasons at Buffalo.

Said Bares: “You have to be crazy to trust a pole and throw yourself 15 feet in the air. I guess you have to be fearless for a couple of seconds, let everything go and trust yourself.”

  • related content

  • Chart: A closer look at state's top pole vaulters

    Monday May 13, 2013

    Over-the-top performers

  • Prep athletes of the week: Delano's Hanson enjoying power surge for as long as it lasts

    Monday May 13, 2013

    TOBY HANSONDelano • baseballIt didn’t take long for Hanson, a three-sport athlete, to name his favorite sport. “Baseball,” said the...

  • Monday's prep results

    Tuesday May 14, 2013

    MONDAYADAPTED SOFTBALLCI DIVISION• Dakota United 14, So. Washington 12• North Suburban 14, Anoka 12PI DIVISION• Robbinsdale 10, Anoka-Hennepin 3BASEBALLCLASSIC SUBURBAN•...

  • Lakeville South senior Lee Bares broke the state record at the Class 3A, Section 1 meet at Lakeville North. Bares cleared 15-9 inches, topping the previous record of 15-8 held by Macauley Spandl of Moorhead.

  • As stadium lights took over for natural light one week ago, Lakeville South senior pole vaulter Lee Bares broke the Minnesota state record by clearing 15 feet, 9 inches at the Class 3A, Section 1 meet at Lakeville North. Bares celebrated his feat (below), giving friends Grant Krieger and Mitch Valli a new mark to pursue.

  • (Left to right) Pole vaulters Mitch Valli of Buffalo, Grant Krieger of Blake and Lee Bares of Lakeville South got together for a recent photo shoot and a little practice at the Blake track. The trio have developed a friendship through their devotion to and skill in their event. “Part of it is that vaulters in general are crazy, outgoing people,” Krieger said.

  • Mitch Valli of Buffalo doesn’t have to go far for vaulting advice. His stepfather, Paul Herda, coached vaulters at St. John’s.

  • Grant Krieger of Blake has won the past two Class 1A pole vault titles. He previously got his adrenaline fix by racing Karts at speeds approaching 100 miles per hour.

  • Lee Bares of Lakeville South, the two-time defending Class 2A pole vault champion, now holds the state record at 15 feet, 9 inches.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Team Irvin 7:15 PM
Team Carter
New York 71 FINAL
Charlotte 76
Detroit 86 FINAL
Milwaukee 101
Philadelphia 83 FINAL
Memphis 101
Brooklyn 73 FINAL
Utah 108
Washington 96 FINAL
Portland 103
Wake Forest 57 FINAL
Clemson 59
Coll of Charleston 51 FINAL
Drexel 53
Tulsa 66 FINAL
East Carolina 64
Oklahoma State 53 FINAL
Kansas State 63
Rutgers 51 FINAL
Penn State 79
Iowa 63 FINAL
Purdue 67
Kentucky 58 FINAL
South Carolina 43
DePaul 76 FINAL
Xavier 89
Navy 65 FINAL
Holy Cross 76
Bucknell 92 FINAL
Boston Univ 77
Allen (SC) 46 FINAL
Furman 82
South Dakota 50 FINAL
IUPUI 65
Texas A&M 67 FINAL
Tennessee 61
Citadel 75 FINAL
Va Military 85
Jacksonville 59 FINAL
Northern Ky 81
Loyola-Chicago 61 FINAL
Indiana State 72
Boise State 77 FINAL
Air Force 68
Kent State 63 FINAL
Ball State 52
Loyola-Maryland 58 FINAL
Colgate 59
Duquesne 59 FINAL
George Washington 74
Dartmouth 70 FINAL
Harvard 61
Lehigh 75 FINAL
Lafayette 71
Arkansas 61 FINAL
Missouri 60
Florida State 74 FINAL
North Carolina 78
Buffalo 61 FINAL
Ohio 63
Kansas 75 FINAL
Texas 62
TCU 85 FINAL
West Virginia 86
Akron 71 FINAL
Western Mich 69
Northeastern 62 FINAL
William & Mary 78
Brown 65 FINAL
Yale 69
Stetson 67 FINAL
USC Upstate 91
Denver 69 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 80
Fla Gulf Coast 54 FINAL
Kennesaw St 48
Illinois 71 FINAL
Minnesota 79
Louisiana 64 FINAL
Georgia State 75
Georgetown 95 FINAL
Marquette 85
St Francis-PA 40 FINAL
Mount St Marys 52
Texas-El Paso 71 FINAL
Marshall 78
Georgia 72 FINAL
Miss State 66
TX-San Antonio 74 FINAL
Western Ky 83
CS-Bakersfield 57 FINAL
Chicago State 41
MD-Eastern Shore 74 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 70
Presbyterian 52 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 63
Southern Ill 66 FINAL
Evansville 75
James Madison 69 FINAL
Hofstra 63
Michigan State 77 FINAL
Nebraska 79
Miami-Ohio 60 FINAL
Northern Ill 55
McNeese State 67 FINAL
Northwestern St 93
UCLA 64 FINAL
Oregon 82
Robert Morris 67 FINAL
St Francis-NY 65
BYU 74 FINAL
San Diego 77
Miami-Florida 66 FINAL
Syracuse 62
Iowa State 73 FINAL
Texas Tech 78
Campbell 63 FINAL
Winthrop 71
New Mexico 62 FINAL
Wyoming 63
Sacred Heart 83 FINAL
Bryant 66
Austin Peay 56 FINAL
Eastern Ill 52
Eastern Mich 51 FINAL
Central Mich 65
Long Island 80 FINAL
Fair-Dickinson 76
Liberty 76 FINAL
Radford 84
Coppin State 77 FINAL
NC Central 79
Northern Ariz 71 FINAL
Montana State 64
North Florida 75 FINAL
Lipscomb 66
North Dakota 80 FINAL
Eastern Wash 102
Arkansas State 64 FINAL
Troy 55
Old Dominion 68 FINAL
UAB 81
Gardner-Webb 80 FINAL
Char Southern 93
Morehead State 66 FINAL
Jacksonville St 63
Ga Southern 57 FINAL
ULM 53
Stephen F Austin 79 FINAL
Sam Houston St 68
Appalachian St 64 FINAL
Texas State 58
Nicholls 71 FINAL
Central Arkansas 61
Incarnate Word 77 FINAL
Abilene Christian 61
Alcorn State 60 FINAL
Alabama State 84
Texas-Arlington 75 FINAL
Ark-Little Rock 68
Oklahoma 58 FINAL
Baylor 69
UNC Greensboro 72 FINAL
Chattanooga 81
Howard 59 FINAL
Florida A&M 50
Jackson State 74 FINAL
Grambling St 63
Charlotte 69 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 72
Florida 71 FINAL
Ole Miss 72
Prairie View 72 FINAL
Miss Valley St 65
Delaware State 67 FINAL
NC A&T 52
USC 55 FINAL
Oregon State 59
Norfolk State 76 FINAL
SC State 63
Houston 59 FINAL
SMU 80
LSU 79 FINAL
Vanderbilt 75
Hampton 66 FINAL
Savannah State 68
Cal State Fullerton 49 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 68
Wagner 50 FINAL
Central Conn St 53
Cornell 57 FINAL
Columbia 47
Richmond 60 FINAL
Dayton 63
Delaware 82 FINAL
Elon 94
Nevada 62 FINAL
Fresno State 66
Davidson 80 FINAL
George Mason 73
UNC-Asheville 51 FINAL
High Point 72
North Dakota St 71 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 77
Wisconsin 69 FINAL
Michigan 64
Canisius 46 FINAL
Rider 59
Penn 56 FINAL
Saint Josephs 52
Western Carolina 72 FINAL
Samford 78
SE Missouri St 53 FINAL
UT Martin 70
Bowling Green 67 FINAL
Toledo 71
East Tenn St 64 FINAL
Wofford 72
Ill-Chicago 64 FINAL
Youngstown St 77
Seattle 55 FINAL
UMKC 75
TX A&M-CC 71 FINAL
New Orleans 67
Southern U 65 FINAL
Alabama A&M 58
Missouri State 59 FINAL
Bradley 61
Washington St 58 FINAL
Colorado 90
Pacific 60 FINAL
Gonzaga 91
Utah State 77 FINAL
UNLV 79
Towson 65 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 69
Southern Miss 75 FINAL
North Texas 71
South Dakota St 76 FINAL
Oral Roberts 72
Louisiana Tech 58 FINAL
Rice 45
Grand Canyon 72 FINAL
TX-Pan American 73
Memphis 57 FINAL
Tulane 55
Murray State 60 FINAL
SIU Edwardsville 54
Lamar 77 FINAL
Houston Baptist 79
Auburn 55 FINAL
Alabama 57
Texas Southern 62 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 66
Southern Utah 56 FINAL
Montana 58
Utah Valley U 44 FINAL
New Mexico St 69
Sacramento St 78 FINAL
Weber State 71
Portland State 76 FINAL
Idaho State 80
Eastern Ky 81 FINAL
Tenn Tech 83
UC Riverside 49 FINAL
Cal Poly 68
Long Beach State 64 FINAL
CS-Northridge 58
San Diego St 73 FINAL
Colorado State 79
Northern Colorado 79 FINAL
Idaho 83
St Marys-CA 74 FINAL
Portland 64
Loyola Marymount 70 FINAL
San Francisco 69
Arizona 73 FINAL
California 50
Pepperdine 57 FINAL
Santa Clara 60
UC Irvine 78 FINAL
Hawaii 72
Arizona State 70 FINAL
Stanford 89
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Middle Tennessee 84 FINAL
Charlotte 54
Kansas State 46 FINAL
(3) Baylor 68
Louisiana 63 FINAL
Georgia State 56
Sacred Heart 67 FINAL
Bryant 71
Wagner 61 FINAL
Central Conn St 77
Robert Morris 67 FINAL
St Francis-NY 64
Presbyterian 51 FINAL
Winthrop 54
Akron 74 FINAL
Central Michigan 72
Davidson 47 FINAL
Duquesne 83
Dayton 75 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 56
George Washington 67 FINAL
La Salle 48
USC Upstate 44 FINAL
Stetson 67
Long Island 79 FINAL
Fairleigh Dickinson 75
MD-Eastern Shore 65 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 75
Coppin State 58 FINAL
NC Central 59
Wofford 47 FINAL
East Tenn St 69
UNC Greensboro 49 FINAL
Western Carolina 70
Campbell 40 FINAL
Liberty 64
Charleston Southern 71 FINAL
Longwood 79
McNeese State 54 FINAL
Northwestern St 75
Coastal Carolina 61 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 68
High Point 58 FINAL
Radford 61
UAB 46 FINAL
Old Dominion 58
Penn 59 FINAL
NJIT 29
Austin Peay 66 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 63
West Virginia 59 FINAL
Kansas 65
Miami-Ohio 53 FINAL
Bowling Green 66
Northern Ill 43 FINAL
Buffalo 47
Eastern Michigan 75 FINAL
Toledo 61
Western Mich 78 FINAL
Kent State 55
Manhattan 51 FINAL
Siena 59
Boston U 56 FINAL
Bucknell 72
Colgate 72 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 45
Holy Cross 60 FINAL
Navy 44
Rhode Island 57 FINAL
George Mason 45
Massachusetts 44 FINAL
Richmond 64
St Bonaventure 48 FINAL
Saint Josephs 66
Cleveland State 65 FINAL
Wright State 82
Green Bay 75 FINAL
Detroit 58
Northern Ky 70 FINAL
Jacksonville 59
Lipscomb 71 FINAL
North Florida 62
Tulsa 74 FINAL
East Carolina 63
TCU 71 FINAL
Oklahoma St 62
Santa Clara 65 FINAL
Pepperdine 54
Denver 82 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 75
Incarnate Word 54 FINAL
Abilene Christian 78
Nicholls 75 FINAL
Central Arkansas 72
Furman 45 FINAL
Chattanooga 67
Nebraska Omaha 53 FINAL
Oral Roberts 74
Stephen F Austin 64 FINAL
Sam Houston St 65
(24) Western Ky 63 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 64
Houston 49 FINAL
Memphis 84
Morehead St 64 FINAL
Jacksonville St 72
Prairie View 78 FINAL
Miss Valley St 61
Appalachian St 58 FINAL
Texas State 67
Arkansas State 82 FINAL
Troy 76
American Univ 60 FINAL
Army 68
Georgia Southern 66 FINAL
ULM 72
Illinois-Chicago 63 FINAL
Milwaukee 64
Youngstown St 82 FINAL
Oakland 85
Eastern Washington 82 FINAL
North Dakota 96
Texas Tech 64 FINAL
Oklahoma 70
San Diego 50 FINAL
BYU 54
Air Force 54 FINAL
Boise State 81
Portland 53 FINAL
St Marys-CA 66
Howard 53 FINAL
Florida A&M 65
Wyoming 54 FINAL
New Mexico 60
Delaware State 38 FINAL
NC A&T 79
UNLV 72 FINAL
Utah State 85
Hampton 55 FINAL
Savannah State 61
Marshall 76 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 71
Norfolk State 75 FINAL
SC State 79
Boston College 70 FINAL
Pittsburgh 78
Chicago State 58 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 83
Alcorn State 45 FINAL
Alabama State 54
Jackson State 64 FINAL
Grambling 55
TX-Arlington 38 FINAL
Ark-Little Rock 66
Fordham 50 FINAL
Saint Louis 54
Idaho 52 FINAL
Northern Colorado 70
Cornell 44 FINAL
Columbia 42
Ohio U 60 FINAL
Ball State 53
Gonzaga 73 FINAL
Pacific 63
San Francisco 74 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 65
St Francis-PA 64 FINAL
Mount St Marys 74
Colorado State 49 FINAL
San Diego State 36
Hawaii 85 FINAL
Cal-Irvine 50
Lamar 80 FINAL
Houston Baptist 64
TX A&M-CC 58 FINAL
New Orleans 46
Weber State 65 FINAL
Sacramento St 108
FIU 63 FINAL
Florida Atlantic 77
North Texas 55 FINAL
Southern Miss 67
Southern U 77 FINAL
Alabama A&M 55
(6) Notre Dame 74 FINAL
Clemson 36
Murray State 52 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 78
SE Missouri St 55 FINAL
UT Martin 96
New Mexico St 68 FINAL
Utah Valley U 58
No Dakota State 66 FINAL
Western Ill 88
Harvard 75 FINAL
Dartmouth 69
Texas Southern 74 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 45
Belmont 64 FINAL
Tennessee St 62
Eastern Kentucky 97 FINAL
Tenn Tech 93
South Dakota 43 FINAL
IUPUI 68
Fresno State 62 FINAL
Nevada 44
CS-Northridge 67 FINAL
Long Beach St 52
Rice 71 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 88
UMKC 46 FINAL
Seattle 60
Saint Peters 51 FINAL
Marist 77
Kennesaw St 47 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 61
Cal Poly 78 FINAL
UC-Riverside 82
Montana State 64 FINAL
Northern Ariz 79
UC Santa Barbara 50 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 54
Montana 59 FINAL
Southern Utah 37
Idaho State 65 FINAL
Portland State 53
TX-Pan American 54 FINAL
Grand Canyon 69

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How optimistic are you about the 2015 Twins?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close