YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships are considered the pinnacle of the sport where only the best of the best qualify, which is what makes Youngstown State sending two representatives in the pole vault a pretty big deal.
“It’s the event that you can see no matter where you are on the track, they look over and they say, ‘Holy cow, how is he going to get over that?'” said Youngstown State senior Wyatt Lefker. “It’s dangerous and a lot of things can go wrong. You have 1.7 seconds from the time you leave the ground to the time you’re over the bar, so there’s no time to think, it’s just do.”
YSU is actually the only school in the country sending two in the pole vault, Lefker and Dorian Chaigneau, to the 16-man field in New Mexico this weekend.
“It’s going to be like practice because we fight each other during practice every day, like every week,” Chaigneau said.
“We’re always there right next to each other and we want each other to do our best and it just so happens that we’re tied for the school record, which is kind of pretty cool,” Lefker said. “But it makes such a big difference having somebody to push you and I’m so grateful that he’s here because I wouldn’t be where I am if he wasn’t.”
Lefker felt that push quickly considering Chaigneau transferred to YSU in August from Division II Harding after winning two D2 titles.
Before that, Chaigneau was in his native France where he took a liking to pole vaulting at a young age, something you could call love at first sight.
“At age 10 or 11, you get to start to pick your event and I saw a group in France doing pole vaulting,” Chaigneau said. “I never stop after that, I just want to do that all every week, every day and since that, I do that every day.”
Luckily for Chaigneau, it has translated into competing with the best of the best here in the States and breaking records, something you have to do to gain some respect in these circles.
“Where’s Youngstown at? You know, we get that a lot,” Lefker said. “I really think it’s going to be great for why I see, when people see two people in one event and not just any event, in the pole vault from the same team. It’s pretty cool because there’s a lot of really big schools that are going to be there and to see two guys out there jumping high as it’s going to put us on the map.”
Lefker and Chaigneau will compete in the NCAA Indoor Championships in Albuquerque, New Mexico on March 10-11.