With most of the focus on the parallel lanes of the track,
it is difficult for field event athletes to get much recognition, usually competing in pits and circles
out of the spectators' view.
But it's a different story in Priceville, especially for pole vaulters.
At The Barn, the indoor track facility, the pole vault pit is in the infield of the track, right beside the finishline. This
is a rare spotlight for vaulters accustomed to the obscurity of a far endzone.
The high flights of such future collegiate vaulters as Thomas Fowlkes, Trey Hardee, Virginia Uhrin, and Matt Vogtner
have treated crowds at The Barn in recent years.
In 2001, the AHSAA added women's vaulting as an event, and the state's girls quickly rose to heights of ten and eleven feet
in front of Priceville crowds.
At the Early Bird Invitational on Saturday, Mountain Brook's Mary Kathryn Harbert and Scottsboro senior Jeremy Protz
proved that there will be no drop-off in talent this year, but rather a continuation of what's becoming a tradition of
In one of the first events completed Saturday, Harbert, the junior pupil of Spartan vault coach Mike McGovern, cleared
eleven feet to finish a full two feet above Hoover's Kate Jordan. The height is a new best for Harbert, equals last
year's 6A state-winning and record-setting height from McGill-Toolen's Rhiannon Jaet, and is just three inches shy of
Jaet's outdoor record, also set last year.
Later in the day, Jeremy Protz worked all the way up to 14' 6" without missing at any of the lower heights. After two misses,
he skimmed over the bar at 14' 6" and moved the standards up to fifteen feet, but was unable to mount a series attempt at
that height. Protz set the 5A outdoor record two years ago at 14' 3", and was last year's 5A indoor champion with a mark of
Just hours after the meet, Jeremy Protz took the time for this interview with AlabamaRunners.
Interview: Jeremy Protz.