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.”

It all came together on Bares’ second attempt at 15-9 last week. Planting the pole, Bares swung his feet forward until the soles of his shoes were momentarily parallel with the evening sky before he twisted and arched over the bar as he jettisoned the pole.

The crowd, alerted ahead of time by the track’s public address announcer, erupted and Bares clapped his hands during free fall. Bares later noted the sun had set well before his leap and the buzzing stadium lights were not positioned to provide much light. No matter. “Cougars hunt at night,” joked his father, David.

Though he had failed to clear 15-9 more than a dozen times, Bares said he “looked at the bar and for some reason it didn’t look that high.”

Bares, Krieger and Valli shot themselves skyward with a similar ease last week while practicing together after a photo session at Blake’s Hopkins campus. All three took aim at the bungee bar set at 16 feet, 6 inches and were not far from clearing.

Krieger’s ultimate goal is for one of them to clear 17 feet and garner nationwide attention for a state not known for producing elite pole vaulting marks.

“I don’t care which one of us it is, I just want to see the Minnesota state pole vault record at 17 feet or higher,” Krieger said. “I want this group of good vaulters to be remembered.”







 

  • related content

  • Video: Lakeville South Lee Bares shows pole vault technique

    Tuesday May 14, 2013

    Lakeville South senior Lee Bares set a new all-time high school record with a polevault height of 15'9". His...

  • 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

Chicago 17 4th Qtr 14:57
Detroit 31
Philadelphia 3:30 PM
Dallas
Seattle 7:30 PM
San Francisco
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Edmonton 7:00 PM
Nashville
ULM 54 FINAL
Robert Morris 71
Santa Clara 57 FINAL
Tennessee 64
Oklahoma 59 2nd Half 1:59
Butler 46
Austin Peay 44 2nd Half 15:34
Brown 44
Princeton 24 2nd Half 17:09
Texas-El Paso 26
Coastal Carolina 17 1st Half 8:09
Chattanooga 24
Kansas 25 1st Half 8:40
Rhode Island 10
Wisconsin 2:30 PM
Georgetown
FIU 2:30 PM
USC Upstate
Long Island 3:00 PM
Stony Brook
San Diego 3:30 PM
Xavier
Illinois 4:00 PM
Indiana State
Western Ky 5:00 PM
Saint Josephs
Cal State Fullerton 5:00 PM
Wright State
Michigan State 5:30 PM
Rider
UCLA 6:00 PM
North Carolina
Marquette 7:30 PM
Georgia Tech
Long Beach State 7:30 PM
Western Mich
Stephen F Austin 8:00 PM
Prairie View
UAB 8:30 PM
Florida
Rice 8:30 PM
Mercer
San Jose St 10:00 PM
Washington
Washington St 10:59 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Baylor 10:59 PM
Memphis
LSU 6:30 PM
Texas A&M
(6) TCU 6:30 PM
Texas
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 11/28/14 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
UCF 12/4/14 6:30 PM
East Carolina
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
Hartford 43 FINAL
Furman 53
Clemson 74 2nd Half 2:19
Ohio State 80
Idaho State 32 2nd Half
San Diego State 30
East Carolina 27 2nd Half
(22) Syracuse 47
Santa Clara 2:30 PM
Texas-El Paso
Florida State 2:30 PM
Washington
Wichita State 2:30 PM
Fla Gulf Coast
Wisconsin 3:15 PM
(1) South Carolina
BYU 5:00 PM
BYU-Hawaii
Kansas State 5:00 PM
LSU
Charlotte 5:00 PM
Montana
Illinois 5:00 PM
(9) Kentucky
Central Michigan 7:00 PM
Richmond
Oklahoma 7:15 PM
South Florida
Princeton 7:30 PM
Wake Forest
(19) Oregon State 8:00 PM
Butler

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Will the Gophers bring home The Axe?

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