Central Texas hosts world’s largest Pole Vaulting Competition

Published: Jan. 2, 2021 at 1:03 PM CST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - The coronavirus has caused numerous headaches across pretty much all sports and activities.

The Pole Vaulting world is no exception... but with big cities canceling their indoor competitions amid the pandemic, organizers tell me the Expo Pole Vault Explosion in Bell County this weekend is the biggest indoor vaulting competition in the world.

The event was started over a decade ago by Texas Elite Pole Vault Head Coach Jack Chapman. Chapman saw major events in other parts of the country and decided he needed to bring one to central Texas.

The event’s floor manager, Scott Shadrick, tells me, “[Chapman] thought, ‘Texas should be able to put on event like that’, to bring some of the local people in. It has just continued to grow since then.”

This is the 12th year of the event, and more than 400 pole vaulters from across the country are registered to compete this weekend.

Despite spanning from coast-to-coast and border-to-border, the vaulters at the event are somewhat of a family.

One competitor, Hunter Cook, comes from Wisconsin, and says, “It’s just an amazing community no matter where you go.”

What makes this event in central Texas unique is that it includes vaulters of all ages - stretching from five years old to 80 years old. Among the group - some of the best vaulters in the world.

“It gives those Olympians and pro athletes a chance to give back, and help grow the sport. It also gives those younger vaulters an opportunity to see how the best train – what they do and how they perform,” says Shadrick.

A pole vaulter from Belton High School, Trenton Whitworth, adds, “It’s really inspiring to know that maybe one day I could do that. Some of them are really nice and give friendly tips. It’s really nice just being around them.”

Texas Elite Pole Vaulting is excited to be putting on the largest indoor meet in the world this year, especially considering the work it takes to host it.

“A lot of people come, and they show up and see the mats and the runways laid out for the athletes. What they don’t know is all the work that has to go on behind the scenes to get all this to take place,” explains Shadrick.

All of that work is done by vaulters, their parents, and other volunteers, who say it is well worth it.

Shadrick says, “It’s really important that we have events like this so that we grow the sport in the United States. Also, it’s important that we give these kids an opportunity to pursue their dreams.”

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