For three years, the podium at the state track and field meet eluded three area pole vaulters. But on Friday, all three broke through, and did it in style, to open the WIAA State Track and Field Championships at Roger Harring Stadium.
Bangor's Kellen Kravik won the division 3 pole vault competition at a height of 14 feet 6 inches. He won the competition by six inches, then tried to break the 15 foot mark, but came up just short.
"It means a lot. I've been working hard for it a long, long time," Kravik said. "Put a lot of time, a lot of work in, and it feels awesome to put it all together at the right time."
It wasn't easy at times. He missed his first two attempts at 13 feet 6 inches, but came through on the final effort. He needed a third attempt at 14 feet and again at 14 feet 3 inches, which proved to be the winning height, before clearing 14 feet 6 inches on his first try.
"It was an awesome feeling. Fourth place, 3rd place," Kravik said. "It came down to that last vault, and I made it, and the crowd went wild. It felt awesome to know I was in 1st place."
He went for 15 feet afterward as most of the crowd at UW-L watched, but was unsuccessful.
"I tried 15 feet twice, and I was on a new pole. Gotta try it," he said. "I just didn't have enough in the tank to get up there, but I'm up there. Next year that's a big goal of mine, a big goal of mine."
A few yards away in the division 2 competition, Viroqua's Jeremy Lee and West Salem's Mac Anderson both made the finals, capping a four-year battle between the two. Anderson placed fifth at a height of 13 feet 9 inches. Lee was right behind in sixth place at 13 feet. Both cruised to the 13 feet mark before Lee was unable to advance. Anderson cleared that height on his second attempt, then cleared 13 feet 9 inches on his third attempt.
"Vaulting against him for four years, it's nice to see someone I actually know be here with me," Anderson said with Lee at his side. "It's a competitive friendship but it's still there."
Lee shared a mutual feeling.
"It was amazing. I wasn't really expecting to make podium this year, but hard work paid off," he said.
While Anderson and Lee wrap up their careers this weekend, Kravik will return next year, looking to defend his state championship.