As a freshman, it was a struggle for Chris Nilsen just to clear the pole vault bar. Fast forward four years and that struggle is now trying to find a bar that’s high enough for the senior to vault over – and during the Missouri Class 5 Section 4 meet at Kansas City (Missouri) Staley High School, he did.
The Park Hill senior set the national high school record in the pole vault by clearing 18 feet 4¾ inches, passing the previous national record of 18 feet 3½ inches set by Shawn Barber of Kingwood, Texas, in 2012.
The national record was set during Nilsen’s last attempt. The bar shook as he grazed past it, but it stayed in place. It took the officials more than 20 minutes to measure the mark for record verification purposes.
“I would have done it again if it wasn’t a national record, but now I’m too tired, and I still have to go do the high jump,” Nilsen told the Kansas City Star.
Incidentally, he won the high jump with a mark of 6-6 later in the meet.
Nilsen will continue pole vaulting at the University of South Dakota on a scholarship.
Maddie Koss is a summer semester intern in the NFHS Publications/Communications Department and a senior at Butler University.