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'They need each other': MHS pole vault trio after high heights

Mitchell's Kiel Nelson competes in the boys pole vault at the 93rd Dakota Relays on Saturday at Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls. (Eric Mayer / Republic)

SIOUX FALLS — The college pole vault stole the show at the 93rd Dakota Relays.

South Dakota's Chris Nilsen vaulted higher than any other American this season when he cleared 19 feet, 2.75 inches and created a thunderous roar on Saturday at Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls. Nilsen's mark was the best in stadium and Dakota Relays history and it ranks fourth in the world this season.

Getting a front row view of Nilsen's performance were three Mitchell Kernel pole vaulters, who have their own dreams of soaring that high.

"That was a pretty insane," said Sutton Carpenter, who has cleared 13-3 this season which is tied for fourth-best in Class AA. "Sometimes, it's rough. But it's definitely a lot more fun jumping with all three of us."

On Friday, Carpenter, along with fellow juniors Sam Jones and Kiel Nelson claimed three of the top-six places at the Sioux Falls O'Gorman Invite. All three competed in the high school event at the Dakota Relays on Saturday and they admitted their goal is to each place at the state meet later this month.

"The three of them are going to push each other and when they beat each other, they'll be happy with whoever comes out on top," MHS head coach Joe Shepardson said. "It's good to be competitive. The rest of the state is tough in pole vault, so they need each other to get the best out of each other."

MHS pole vault coach Travis Carpenter said the trio has been competing in pole vault since they were seventh-graders. He added the group gets along really well and they soaked in the opportunity to see the sport of pole vault performed at such a high level in person on Saturday.

"The kids did a good job of paying attention to what they were doing and learning from it," coach Carpenter said. "You don't get to see stuff like that very often, if ever."

On Saturday, Jones had Mitchell's top jump at 12-9 to finish in 12th place at the event. In Class AA, Harrisburg's Nolan Hoback and Peyton Voss each have cleared 14-3, while Huron's Travis Kleinsasser is third at 14-0. Brandon Valley's Ethan Tellinghuisen and Harrisburg's Nick Schirado have each cleared 13-9. Coach Carpenter said all three Kernels will be gunning for 13-9 to try and earn a place at the state meet.

"All three of them are a little adjustment here or there from doing some fun things," Carpenter said. "It'll take 13-9 or 13-3 clean to place at state and they are capable of doing that. It's about making adjustments and fix what we are doing wrong. We're not far off from where we want to be."

Mitchell will compete in the Eastern South Dakota Conference meet on Saturday in Pierre.

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