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Replacement pole vault pit will be safer for athletes and allow for better competition

PMG FILE PHOTO - The pole vault pit currently in use at Barlow High School was purchased in 2012. It has been deteriorating since then, leading coaches to worry about the safety of the athletes using it.The pole vaulters at Barlow High School need support from the community for a softer, and safer, landing.

In 1991, the high school purchased a pit that held up until around 2010, when a group of kids thought it would be fun to jump bikes onto it. That tore up the padding, resulting in the school quickly purchasing a replacement in 2012. That pit was cheaper, and has slowly been degrading ever since.

A pole vault pit consists of five sections with a top cover that shields the athletes from landing on too hard of a surface. There is also a weather cover.

The problems with the pit purchased in 2012 have slowly been mounting — the weather cover only lasted about two years, and the top cover has worn away.

"Whenever someone lands on it, dust poofs up around them and gets in their mouth and eyes," said Todd Wright, the Barlow pole vault coach.

More concerning is that the cover is no longer properly shielding the student athletes from the firm bottom portions of the pit, causing a looming threat of injuries.

"We have had some sprained ankles because the pit is too soft," Wright said. "Luckily there haven't been any major injuries so far."

So the pole vault team, with support from many groups including Gresham Family Chiropractic, is putting on a fundraiser. The team and its partners will host a poker night beginning at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, April 13, at Gresham's Biscuits Café, 1905 N.E. Division St. There will be poker games, a raffle, food and drinks. Because they are planning on serving alcohol, the night is for people 21 and over.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Todd Wright, Barlow pole vault coachThis isn't the first time Barlow pole vaulters have been supported through fundraisers. Last year, a poker night and other events helped the team purchase 32 poles.

"This is a passion of mine, having proper equipment is a big deal," said Wright, who has been coaching at Barlow for 31 years. "Safety is important, as is having a pit that isn't falling apart."

Register for the event in advance by calling Wright at 503-969-4468. Tickets are $40 per person.

The plan is to use the money raised to purchase a pole vault pit from a national summit that is held every winter in Reno. Those pits are sold at a discount because they are put on display and are more difficult to transfer. Barlow is looking at a pit that normally runs about $24,000, but they can buy for $19,500.

They will fundraise this year and next year, generating enough money for the pit by the 2020 season.

"Come out and support your track kids," Wright said.

If you go

What: Poker Night

When: 5:30 p.m. Saturday, April 13

Where: Gresham's Biscuits Cafe, 1905 N.E. Division St.

Call: 503-969-4468


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