Menno captures first, second in Class B boys pole vault behind Owen Eitemiller, Isaac Fergen

Eitemiller returned to the top of the podium after winning the event in 2021, while Freeman also put two individuals on the podium.

Menno's Owen Eitemiller competes in the boys pole vault during the Class B state track and field meet on Thursday, May 25, 2023, at Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

SIOUX FALLS — It was a sweet senior sendoff in the pole vault for Owen Eitemiller.

After winning the event in 2021 as a sophomore, Eitemiller placed third at last year’s state track and field meet. But Thursday afternoon, the Menno senior returned to the top of the podium, defending his top seed with a vault of 13 feet, 3 inches, to match a personal best at each of the past two state meets.

“I definitely felt the adrenaline today… but it puts a little pressure on you,” Eitemiller said of coming in as the top qualifier. “Last year, I came in tied for the top height and someone else came out and PR’d (set a personal record) by almost a foot and a half to beat both of us. You never know what is going to happen.”

As the field was whittled down, eventually it was only Eitemiller and teammate Isaac Fergen remaining. After Eitemiller cleared 12 feet, 3 inches, and Fergen, a junior, bowed out in second place, it left the senior all alone to raise the bar.

He did so twice more, clearing 12-9 and 13-3 before bowing out himself while chasing a school record at 13 feet, 10 inches.


Bietz's first throw was her best of the day, as it edged the second-place mark by one-quarter of an inch.

As the lone event participant in the infield, Eitemiller was the focus of the Howard Wood Field crowd and its encouraging claps and cheers. When he cleared 13-3 on his final attempt, the audience erupted, creating a memory as Eitemiller closes his prep pole vault career.

“That moment meant a lot because I’d never got something like that before,” Eitemiller said of the crowd reception. “It was just crazy having everyone cheering for you. It was just nuts.”

Ipswich also put two individuals in the top-five overall, as Rasmus Loken and Brody Davis placed third and fifth, respectively, separated by Centerville’s Lane Johnson in fourth.

The Freeman duo of Jorgen Baer and Rocky Ammann reached the podium as part of a four-way tied for sixth with Philip’s Kash Slovek and Lemmon’s Gage Anderson. All competitors third through sixth reached 11 feet, 6 inches, differentiated by the number of jumps.

Dierks covers prep and collegiate athletics across the Mitchell Republic's coverage region area, focusing on Mitchell High School football and boys basketball and area high school football, volleyball and basketball, as well as Dakota Wesleyan women's basketball. He was also the lead on the Mitchell Republic Gridiron Spotlight, producing video and providing live play-by-play for the traveling weekly prep football broadcast during its first season in the fall of 2021. Dierks is a Mitchell native who graduated from South Dakota State University with his bachelor's degree in journalism in May 2020. He joined the Mitchell Republic sports staff in August 2021. He can be reached at and found on Twitter at @LDierksy.
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