Bethany Buell and Emily Grove are Transforming South Dakota Into ‘Pole Vault U’ [AUDIO]
It might be the easiest payday ever.
Make a friendly wager with that favorite sports fan in your life to tell you which school has the top two qualifiers in the women's pole vault at this week's NCAA Division I Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon.
The odds of them answering the University of South Dakota are about the same as you or me ever clearing 14 feet, but the reality is the Coyotes are 1-2 in qualifying at nationals.
Junior Bethany Buell is not only the top qualifier, she also jumped higher than anyone in the nation this year, when she cleared 14-7 1/2 at the Texas Relays in March.
She arrives in Eugene with a target squarely on her back.
The biggest question mark for Buell in Eugene is what effect, if any, an injured shoulder have on her performance. That injury that will require surgery later this summer.
Buell is making her third straight NCAA outdoor championship. She took third in last year's event, but finished a disappointing sixth at the indoor championships in March. The top four jumpers from that field will be in Eugene this week.
USD Head Coach Lucky Huber still marvels at what this junior sensation has been able to accomplish with the help of pole vault coach Derek Miles, a USD alum and three-time Olympian.
For an event that challenges the mind as well as the body, Buell has the perfect major: Psychology.
Sophomore teammate Emily Grove is the number two qualifier, as she makes her second appearance at the national championships. She took seventh at nationals last June in Des Moines. Does she think it will be easier the second time around at nationals?
This season, Grove has jumped as high as 14 feet, which is 10th best among the field’s 24 vaulters.
One thing Grove has benefited from this season is not having to look to far to find top notch competition. She has it in Buell every day in practice.
Coach Huber is expecting big things from this duo this week. One thing he's not anticipating is nerves getting the best of his jumpers.
Buell and Grove have jumped in Eugene before and both are anxious to get back to the mecca of U.S. track this week.
So with South Dakota's lofty ranking atop the college pole vault world these days, is USD on its way to becoming 'Pole Vault U'?
The pole vault competition begins Friday at 5:15pm Central.