Pole Vault Summit starts Friday (for Friday) | NevadaAppeal.com
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Pole Vault Summit starts Friday (for Friday)

Staff reports

Some top names from the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, including gold medalists Stacy Dragila and Nick Hysong, will be showcased tonight when the National Pole Vault Summit opens in Reno.

Hosted by Carson City-based UCS Spirit, the Summit will be held today and Saturday at the Reno Hilton Hotel & Casino. The opening ceremony is scheduled for 9 a.m. and the featured elite vaulters competition will be held tonight at 7:30 in the 1,750-seat Hilton Theater.

“It’s grown every single year and this is our 12th year, so we’re really excited about that because we’re trying to keep up with the popularity of what’s going on (with pole vault),” Summit co-director Steve Chappell said, adding that the elite competition tonight is already sold out.

Dragila, the women’s Olympic and world record holder, will join Hysong and American record holder Jeff Hartwig to highlight the show. Hartwig broke the American indoor record three times in 2002.

Dragila set the women’s world record of 15-9-1/4 in 2001 and also won her second world championship that year, but is coming off an up and down 2002 season. She is scheduled to compete at the USA Indoor Track and Field Championships March 1 in Boston and the Indoor World Championships on March 14 in Birmingham, England. Chappell said he looks for the 31-year-old from nearby Auburn, Calif., to have a good year.

“Both the indoor and outdoor world championships are going to be held this year so there’s a lot on the line,” Chappell said.

Among Dragila’s top challengers should be German Yvonne Buschbaum, sixth at the 2000 Olympics and third at the 2002 European Championships. Mel Mueller, a 2000 Olympic qualifier and one of the top American women since 1997, is also scheduled to compete. One Northern Nevada entry in the women’s elite field will be Becky Holladay from the University of Oregon, a graduate of Reed High in Sparks.

High school, college and open vaulters will compete from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Saturday. More than 1,000 athletes and coaches from around the country will participate in the competition and clinics.

“Even though Friday night is sold out, people are still welcome to come out Saturday because we’re going to have some of the best college and high school vaulters in the country here,” Chappell said.

Adding local flavor, Douglas High School graduate and University of Arizona junior Chris Chappell will compete on Saturday. Chappell, a two-time state champion in the pole vault for Douglas, made a season best height of 17-1 and placed 14th at the Pacific-10 Championships outdoor meet in 2002.