For pole vaulters, it’s a matter of progression.
“The longer you pole vault, you progress to a height,” said Michael Juergens. “You get used to going 10 feet, then 12 feet, then 15 feet, and you get used to falling 10 feet, 12 feet, 15 feet.
“And there is no better feeling than falling from 17 feet. It was amazing.”
Last Saturday Juergens became the sixth pole vaulter in Missouri Southern history to clear 17 feet during the Dave Suenram PSU Gorilla Classic.
“My first two attempts were OK ... all right vaults. I just didn’t get over the bar,” he said. “The third attempt, I was going in pretty confident. I knew if I did everything Coach was telling me to do, it would happen. I had a fairly good takeoff, and once I got upside down, I pulled with everything I had left and got over pretty easy. It was a pretty easy clear.
“My whole team was sitting there watching. It was pretty awesome. They all wanted it as bad as I did. Once I cleared, they went pretty wild.”
Juergens, a senior, is the first Lion to go 17 feet since Jacob Williams went 17-1 indoors in 2008. Matt Campbell holds the school record both indoors (17-1.75) and outdoors (17-4.50) and has cleared 17 feet nine times — five outdoors and four indoors.
“We’ve been a pole vaulting school for a long time,” Lions coach Tom Rutledge said. “We haven’t had 17-footers come through all at once like they did when we went 1-2-3 at nationals (outdoors at Abilene Christian in 2005).
“We have the facilities. We’ve also had good coaches to coach them, even myself sometimes. Coach (Bryan) Schiding is doing a good job with them. Our other vaulters are coming around. Some of them struggled indoors, but they are starting to come around for outdoors.”
Juergens’ first exposure to Missouri Southern came his senior year at St. Clair High School when he competed at an open indoor meet at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.
“There is not an indoor facility anywhere close where I lived, and I wanted to get a little warmup for the outdoor season,” Juergens said. “I came to the high school meet here and I guess I caught Coach Rutledge’s eye. He was like in my face, saying this is a school for pole vaulters ... Missouri Southern has a good history in pole vaulting.”
Juergens began pole vaulting in junior high school.
“My coach there was a pole vaulter in college,” Juergens said, “and he noticed I had most of the attributes of a pole vaulter. I’m somewhat tall, fairly strong, and I could jump fairly far. He started me on it, and I had success that first year.”
As a freshman with the Lions, he went 15-7 indoors and 15-10 at the MIAA Outdoor Championships. He cleared 16 feet during the indoor season his sophomore year and 16-6.75 outdoors.
Last month he placed third in the NCAA Division II indoor championships, clearing 16-8.75. His best during the current outdoor season was 16-5.50 before last week.
“I have jumped at (17 feet) at practice a few times, and I jumped at it one time in a meet,” Juergens said. “This was the first time where I had a pretty good feeling I was going to get it. I was jumping with the biggest pole I every jumped on in my life. That’s part of the reason I was so confident. ... The bigger the pole, the stiffer it is and the higher you can jump. It’s also a longer pole, which is much harder.”
Juergens’ next action is Saturday when the Lions compete in the Dewey Allgood Invitational at Missouri S&T in Rolla.
“I’m proud of him,” Rutledge said. “He’d never been on a 16-foot pole before. They are harder to bend, but they throw you better up on top. As he keeps moving through poles, it helps the others, too, when they see what he has accomplished.
“Michael’s confidence level is there. He’s sticking the pole. I look for great things to happen for him. He almost won indoors, but the other two pulled it out on their last vaults.”
For pole vaulters, it’s a matter of progression.
- Missouri Southern Sports
Bronchos strike in ninth inning to sink Southern, capture series
Cesar Wong’s home run in the ninth inning broke a 6-6 tie, and Central Oklahoma spoiled Missouri Southern’s Senior Day with an 8-6 victory Saturday in the final game of a four-game series at Joe Becker Stadium.
Southern's Emberton runs 800 provisional
Missouri Southern’s Kindra Emberton placed seventh among a competitive 800-meter field at the Kansas Relays on Saturday in Lawrence.
Graham single lifts Southern past Bronchos
Pinch-hitter Brett Graham drove in the tying and winning runs with a bases-loaded single in the sixth inning as Missouri Southern defeated Central Oklahoma 4-3 in the second game of an MIAA doubleheader Friday at Joe Becker Stadium.
Lions' Schott breaks 10K school record
Eric Schott of Missouri Southern shattered the school record in the 10,000 meters on Thurday night at the 56th annual Mt. Sac Relays.
MSSU men's basketball adds 6-foot-8 transfer
Joey Lillis, former all-state player at Blue Valley West High School, is joining Missouri Southern’s men’s basketball team.
Central Oklahoma spoils solid effort by Lions' Walker, wins series opener
Jake O’Brien’s two-run home run in the seventh inning broke a 1-1 tie, and Central Oklahoma defeated Missouri Southern 4-1 Thursday night in the first game of a four-game MIAA series at Joe Becker Stadium.
MSSU pitcher Hill overcomes cancer surgeries
Skylar Hill has progressed to become Missouri Southern’s mid-week starting pitcher.
Joplin's Brown, junior college product sign with MSSU
Charlie Brown made it official on Wednesday afternoon, signing a basketball letter of intent with Missouri Southern in front of friends and family in the Joplin 11-12 campus cafeteria.
Juco star Morice signs with MSSU women
Tami Morice, who scored 1,250 points during the past two seasons in junior college, will continue her career at Missouri Southern.
Lions, Moon eclipse PSU
Logan Moon went 2-for-4 and scored twice as Missouri Southern defeated Pittsburg State 6-4 in a nonconference game Tuesday night at Joe Becker Stadium.
- More Missouri Southern Sports Headlines
- Bronchos strike in ninth inning to sink Southern, capture series