Pole vaulting coming to Roaring Fork school district | PostIndependent.com

Pole vaulting coming to Roaring Fork school district

From left to right, former college pole vaulter Luke Arnold, jump coach Bill Barham, student athletes Alex Cutright, Kathryn Quintero, Tianna Davis, and head coach Blake Risner with the new pole vaulting equipment.
Chelsea Self |

For the first time in nearly 25 years, the Glenwood Springs Demons track and field team will finally have the ability to compete in pole-vaulting, thanks to the recent purchase of state-of-the-art pole vaulting equipment, which arrived at the high school just last week.

It’s not just the Demons that finally have pole-vaulting equipment; this is the first time in the last 25 years that pole vaulting will be made available in the Roaring Fork School District.

According to Demons track and field head coach Blake Risner, the equipment cost was about $18,500, which was purchased through the district.

This past fall, Risner and his staff met with the district superintendent. Along with Risner and his staff, coaches from Kremmling, Eagle and Battle Mountain showed up in support of the Demons track and field program.

In his twentieth year as head coach of the Demons track and field program, Risner has been pushing for pole vaulting equipment off and on over the last twenty years. He never really seriously inquired about purchasing the equipment until he locked in a coaching staff that could help him.

Now, he has two coaches, including a former college All-American, and a native of Gunnison, Luke Arnold.

With the purchase complete, the focus for Risner and his staff are now focused on generating interest in the sport of pole-vaulting, showing athletes that there is another opportunity to compete in track and field.

“Maybe this could be another reason for kids to come out for this sport,” Risner said. “It’s also going to give the kids in our program added opportunities to qualify for state, and if things go well, we’ll have more kids going to college as a result of this one event because the opportunities are there with the equipment.”

Not only will Glenwood athletes be able to participate in pole-vaulting, the sport will be open to Basalt and Roaring Fork athletes thanks to the joint venture between all three high schools in the school district.

Pole vaulting dates all the way back to the ancient Greeks, Cretans and Celts, and has been a full medal Olympic event since 1896. Typically classified as one of the core four jumping events alongside the high jump, long jump and triple jump, pole vaulting is routinely the most difficult sport to practice due to the specialized equipment needed.

Finally, the Roaring Fork school district now has the opportunity to compete in the art of pole vaulting.

“I just wanted to make this available for the kids, not only as individuals, but for us as a team,” Risner said. “Before getting this equipment, we wouldn’t even have had the opportunity to score in this event, which made it harder for us at big meets to beat other teams that could score in this event.

“From the team aspect, this equipment now gives us the chance to not only go after league championships, but — hopefully in the future — state championships as well.”

One key athlete who could have success right away for Glenwood is junior jumper, Tianna Davis, who originally was a member of Rifle’s track and field team before coming to Glenwood last season in hopes of starting a pole vaulting program.

She now has the equipment in place to start building that foundation.

“It’s pretty exciting to be able to teach some of the younger athletes that haven’t done this before,” Davis said. “To see them kind of grow as athletes in something that I’m passionate about is something I’m very excited about.”

With just three athletes from Glenwood currently preparing for the season, Davis is optimistic that more athletes from the Roaring Fork school district will show interest as the season gets closer.

“I definitely think we’re going to have a lot of athletes because we’re going to have Basalt and Roaring Fork,” Davis said. “I expect to see a lot of athletes participating in this event moving forward.”

The Roaring Fork school district has now cleared the first hurdle of starting up pole vaulting. Now, it’s about generating interest.

With the right coaching staff in place and state-of-the-art equipment, that should be the easy part.

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