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2023 pole vault preview

Updated: Mar 15, 2023

Just as we did in 2022, we asked Patrick Grosserode, the owner of the Trackville training facility in Lincoln, to provide a preview of field events. And just like last year, Patrick wrote an entire article for each discipline. Patrick is uniquely qualified to opine on the current state of field events, and we're thrilled to work with him. Here is Patrick's recap of the pole vault:


Class A Boys

Returning State Medalists (State mark listed)

o Zack Watson, 14-00 (4th) - Kearney (UNK commit)

o Layton Moss, 13-06 (8th) - North Platte

Outlook: Zack Watson and Layton Moss return as State Medalists in what is sure to be a tight competition at the top. Zach Vanicek (Millard South, 9th in 2022) has upped his game this off season with a Class A leading jump of 14-06. Liam McGlynn (Elkhorn South, 2022 qualifier) has jumped 14-00 this indoor season and Moss has a winter best of 13-00. Dylan Headrick of Millard South finished 12th last year with 13-00, and he's cleared 13-06 this winter. Michael Johnson of Papio South (Concordia commit) finished 14th last year at 11-06, but he's got a PR of 13-06 from 2022 Districts and he's already cleared 12-06 this winter.


Class A Girls

Returning State Medalists

o Tayler Evans, 12-00 (2nd) – Gretna

o Hailey Watermeier, 11-06 (3rd) - Lincoln Southwest

o Malissa Savice, 11-00 (5th) - Lincoln Southwest

o Briannah Kutschka, 10-00 (6th) - Grand Island

o Teagan Little, 10-00 (7th) - Lincoln Southwest

Outlook: With ten of seventeen 2022 qualifiers returning this year, look for a tight battle for a medal spot. Tayler Evans has transferred to Fremont this season and is the top returner. We expect Tayler to hit that 12 foot mark or more this season. Hailey Watermeier (LSW) dealt with a back injury this off season which kept her from competing during the winter, but she has looked great in the gym over the past few weeks. Her teammate Malisa Savice cleared 10-00 for the first time on April 27 last year and then PR'd at State with a 11-00. They're joined by Teagan Little of LSW, who has a 10-00 PR. LSW is always competitive in the team race, and they could score some serious points in the pole vault.


Rylei Degen (GI, 9th in 2022) comes in with a PR of 10-02 and has already cleared 10-00 over the winter. Vivian Dalton (Pius) did not jump last season but has cleared 10-03 in her only indoor meet and has the speed to clear big bars. Olivia Broderson of Papio South narrowly missed qualifying for State last year, but she's got a 10-06 PR from 2022 Districts and she's cleared 10-00 this winter. Papio South's Maria Kimpson's notched a 20-inch improvement in 2022 before winning the State title and moving onto Colorado State, so the Papio vault program knows how to develop jumpers. LeAnn Miller of Norfolk, another qualifier in 2022, also comes in with a PR of 10-00 and should be in the mix.


Class B Boys

Returning Medalists

o Kalen Knott, 14-00 (3rd) – Seward

o Caleb Vokes, 13-06 (5th) – Northwest

o Jackson Allen, 13-06 (7th) – Scottsbluff

o Hayden Norgaard, 13-00 (8th) – McCook

o Jax Jacobson, 13-00 (8th) - West-Point Beemer


Outlook: Seven of the top ten boys from 2022 State will return. Kalen Knott led the state this winter with an indoor mark of 14-08. He is well on the path to 15-00+ this season based on his off-season workouts. (After Nerd Senior watched three Concordia men place in the top 9 in the NAIA Nationals pole vault on Saturday, he's convinced there's something in the Seward water.) Jax Jacobson (West Point-Beemer) has returned to form with a winter indoor best of 13-00 at three different meets. Vokes has a PR of 13-09, while Jackson Allen, Hayden Norgaard and Jake Burge (13th) of Gothenburg have all cleared 13-06. Kade Cox of Gothenburg finished 16th at 2022 State but his PR of 13-02 would put him solidly in the mix for a medal in 2023. Given the fickle nature of the pole vault, any of these boys could be in the top three.


Class B Girls

Returning Medalists

o Bradie Medina, 11-00 (3rd) – Holdrege

o Allyson Dutoit, 11-00 (3rd) – Elkhorn North

o Avery Scott, 11-00 (5th) – Waverly

o Kaitlynn Jewitt, 10-06 (6th) – Holdrege


Outlook: The four returning medalists all have very similar PR’s and it’s anybody’s race this season. Allyson Dutoit was the most active over the winter indoor competing in most local meets (winter best of 10-00) as well as the National Pole Vault Summit, all the while playing for Class B basketball champion Elkhorn North. Waverly seniors Avery Scott (11-00 PR) and Jolee Weise (9-10 PR, Doane commit) have looked great this off season and could play a role in the state podium. Medina and Jewett did not compete this off season, but Medina was one of the most consistent vaulters (10-00 or better in all 10 meets) in Class B last season and will be looking for a bigger clearance. Also watch out for first year vaulter Aizlyn Krafka from GINW. She no heighted in her only indoor meet but it has been rumored that there were 12’ bungees cleared in practice.


Three 2022 State qualifiers - Jordyn Rochholz (Elkhorn, 10th), Chayse Friehe (McCook, 11th) and Hannah Crow (McCook, 13th) - return with PRs of 10-06, so they should also be in the medal mix.


Class C Boys

Returning Medalists

o Ashton Pulliam, 14-00 (3rd) – Wilber Clatonia

o Bryce Hodsden, 13-06 (4th) – Mitchell

o Carter Nelson, 13-06 (5th) – Ainsworth

o Jordan Settles, 13-06 (5th) – North Bend Central

o Kaden Reeves, 13-00 (7th) – Arcadia-Loup City

o Kolby Houchen, 13-00 (7th) - Bayard


Outlook: Thirteen of eighteen 2022 qualifiers return in 2023. Pulliam made a nice run at the end of last season, clearing 13-00 in five of his six meets, and he is the highest pacing returner. He did some indoor jumping over the winter and will look to return to form. Hodsden jumped 13-06 four times last season and will be looking to break into the 14’ realm. Carter Nelson can do it all – including pole vault, where he has posted a lifetime best of 13-08 and will factor into the podium this season. If he can clear 7-00 without a pole... well, we're not sure what his ceiling would be in the pole vault.


Kaden Reeves and Jordan Settles each have lifetime best of 13-09. 10th-place finisher Jace Smith (Sutherland) has a PR of 13-03 while Kolby Houchen (Bayard), Lane Heimers (Hartington-Newcastle), Devon Schultz (Wisner-Pilger and John Clausen (Norfolk Catholic) have PRs between 12-06 and 13-00. We'd expect a tight battle for the podium, and don't be surprised if the gap between 1st and 10th is no more than twelve inches again this year.

Class C Girls

Returning Medalists

o Mya Zohner, 11-00 (2nd) – Battle Creek (Mount Marty commit)

o Sadie Rempel, 10-06 (3rd) – Superior

o Kyra Wooden, 10-06 (6th) – Centura

o Angelina Schadema, 10-06 (7th) – Fillmore Central

Outlook: Seven of the top fourteen in 2022 return this year. Mya Zohner was the State Champion in 2021 and runner up in 2022. Both years she jumped 11-0 at the State meet, and last May she also qualified for State in both hurdle events and the triple jump (6th). We just had a front row seat when Mya's older brother Zach finished 2nd in the NAIA Nationals pole vault on Saturday while competing for Concordia, so she's definitely got the pole vault in her blood. Rempel, Wooden and Schadema all have lifetime bests of 10-06, as does Brooklyn Buell of North Central who finished 12th last year.


Ninth-place Mariah Tessman (10-07 PR) of Heartland will also be a key player in Class D this year due to her school's reclassification.

Class D Boys

Returning Medalists

o Owen Kaps, 14-00 (1st) – Bertrand

o Marcus Hernandez, 13-0 (2nd) – Bertrand

o Roe Patton, 13-00 (4th) - Fullerton

o Matthew Johnson, 13-00 (5th) - Creighton

o Carson Bloom, 12-06 (6th) – Riverside

o Lucas Beversdorf, 12-06 (7th) – McCool Junction (Hastings commit)

o Kale Bish, 12-00 (8th) - Giltner


Outlook: (Tyler Hanson, a distance runner at Axtell, is helping us with the Class D previews.) The dynamic duo from Bertrand dominated at last year’s state meet, with Owen Kaps and Marcus Hernandez dueling for the title. Kaps came out on top with a clearance of 14-00, just below his 14-4 PR from 2021, with Marcus just behind at 13-06 (matching his prior PR). Both boys return this year, Kaps as a senior, Marcus as a sophomore. Five of the other six medalists from last year also return, so this will be as crowded a field as Class C. Roe Patton improved throughout the season last year, peaking at state with a massive 10-inch PR at state to snag 4th place as a freshman. If that kind of improvement continues, it’s possible that he could challenge the Bertrand duo for the title. Matthew Johnson has shown tremendous consistency in clearing 13’ at the 2021 and 2022 State meets, and he will continue to be a contender this year.


Of the eleven qualifiers who didn't medal in 2022, we're only losing two to graduation. Tyler Due (Exeter-Milligan, 12-00 PR), Quincy Ryker (Sargent/South Loup, 11-06), James Froeschl (FC Sacred Heart, 11-02), Zayden Wilse (Franklin, 11-02) and Levi Schroeder (Kenesaw, 11-02) have good shots at a medal.


Class D Girls

Returning Medalists

o Kaylee Pribyl, 11-00 (1st) – Meridian (Doane commit)

o Ambie Custard, 10-00 (3rd) – Southwest Public

o Janna Roberts, 10-00 (3rd) – Osceola

o Blair Brenna, 09-06 (6th) – Overon

o Jozie Kanoda, 09-06 (7th) – Exeter-Milligan

o Anna Vodicka, 09-06 (8th) – McCool Junction


Outlook: (Tyler Hanson) With all 2022 medalists except for 2nd-place Jesse Bertrand and 5th-place Autumn Deterding returning this year, the girls pole vault is stacked. Kaylee Pribyl is the heavy favorite going into the year, defeating her nearest competition by a foot at last year’s state meet. She's already jumped 10-06 this winter. The battle for second place, however, is very tight. Ambie Custard and Janna Roberts both cleared the 10-00 mark at last year’s state meet as freshmen, so you'd expect both to be stronger and faster this year. Overton’s Blair Brennan had a clearance of 9-06, but she cleared 10-04 at her district meet. Look for her to be a strong contender coming back this year.


A few schools change classifications every year, and this spring Heartland will be moving from Class C to Class D. Mariah Tessman of Heartland finished 9th in Class in 2022 with a 10-00 vault but her PR is 10-07. That immediately puts her in the hunt for a top spot.


It will likely take at least 09-06 to medal this year, and we wouldn't be surprised to see the winner reach 12-00.


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Originally written for and posted at www.preprunningnerd.com by Patrick Grosserode, Tyler Hanson and Jay Slagle in March 2023. If you find an error, please DM or e-mail us at jayslagle@hotmail.com and we'll get it fixed.

Patrick Grosserode is the owner of Trackville, an indoor training facility devoted to developing youth, high school and collegiate athletes. He's also the Director of the Lincoln Community Track Club, the jump coach at Lincoln Pius X, and a USATF level 2 jump and sprint/hurdle coach. Lean more about Trackville at https://thetrackville.com/.

Like this coverage of Nebraska high school distance running? There's more of this at www.preprunningnerd.com. Check out the Blog tab for our frequent stories, the Articles tab for long-form articles, the Results tab for every Nebraska high school race we could find this year, and the Rankings tab for team and individual rankings. If you want to see meet photos or just need to kill a few hours on social media, follow us on Twitter @PrepRunningNerd or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/preprunningnerd.


Finally, if you think runners and jumpers are the best thing on earth, you'll enjoy our two most popular articles. In 2018 we published "The Runner with the Broken Heart" about a high school boy who finished last in nearly every race he ran. In 2022 we published, "The Fall and Rise of Emmett Hassenstab," a story about a high school triple jumper who became a quadrapalegic after a swimming accident.


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