Four area pole vaulters qualify for Junior Olympics

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJuly 21, 2013 

Kirsten Webber dreams one day of competing in the Olympics. She'll get a pint-sized taste next week.

The Squalicum pole vaulter, who won a 2012 state title and placed second at state last spring, joined teammate Madi Krussow and Mount Baker pole vaulters Nathan Dunford, who also won state in 2012 and took second last spring, and Katherine Dunford in qualifying for the USA National Track and Field National Junior Olympic Championships Monday-Sunday, July 22-28, at North Carolina A&T University in Greensboro, N.C.

The foursome did so by placing well enough during a regional qualifying meet Saturday-Sunday, July 6-7, at Chief Sealth High School in Seattle.

"It's very exciting," Webber said in a phone interview. "There is going to be some of the best vaulters there, so it will be really awesome to be able to compete with all of them."

Webber isn't too bad herself. She cleared a mark of 12 feet during regionals and owns a personal best mark of 12-07.00. She's seeded fourth at the Junior Olympics.

What originally was a joke to Webber has now become reality.

"Last year I had gone to the very first qualifying," she explained. "This year I was joking about how we could go to North Carolina, and it actually happened. Everything played out right."

Webber is most looking forward measuring herself against the top youth competition the U.S. has to offer, she said, but unfortunately she won't be sharing the experience with Krussow.

Given the financial demand of cross country travel and hotel stay, Krussow won't be joining Webber, but she's stilled thrilled she qualified.

"It's an honor," Krussow said. "It's cool that outside of school I got to compete in a meet, and I made it to the Junior Olympics."

Krussow also put together her best official jump during regionals. She cleared a 12-00.00 mark, winning the competition based off attempts. She gave credit to Squalicum vault coach Rod Kammenga for not only her rise as one of the best youth vaulters in the nation, but the Storm's success in the event.

Krussow finished fourth at the state meet last spring and both Webber and she will be seniors this fall.

Nathan will be joining Webber as he prepares to compete for British Columbia's Trinity Western University next season.

The Mount Baker vaulter enjoyed a strong prep career and is looking forward to placing during the Junior Olympics.

"I hope to place and to jump well, but really I'm just looking at it to be a lot of fun," Nathan said in a phone interview. "We are going to spend the weekend in North Carolina, and it will be cool to spend the week at a track meet pole vaulting."

Nathan cleared 15-06.00 and placed second during regionals. His personal record is 16-01.00. Like Webber, he's also listed as the fourth seed in the Junior Olympics.

Not only has Nathan become a track and field standout, he's played a role in generating pole vaulting intrigue, namely with his sister Katherine.

She didn't enjoy it when she first started, though.

"I watched him vault for a year or two, and one of the coaches asked me if I wanted to try it," Katherine explained in a phone interview. "I just got into it after that. The first time, I just thought I'd do it for fun, but I got into it the next year."

Katherine, a soon-to-be sophomore, finished sixth during state, clearing a height of 9-09.00 feet. Her personal record is 10-01.00, but she's hoping to break into the mid 11-foot range next season.

Like Krussow, she won't be traveling to Greensboro due to scheduling conflicts, but reaching the Junior Olympics was a major accomplishment.

"I wanted to say thank you to my coach Dick Henrie, who has helped all along," Katherine said.

Reach Andrew Lang at andrew.lang@bellinghamherald.com or call 360-756-2862.

Reach ANDREW LANG at andrew.lang@bellinghamherald.com or call ext. 862.

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