Park Hill senior sets new national record in pole vault

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A local student athlete scored big and set a national record over the weekend at his track meet.

Park Hill senior Chris Nilsen set the national high school record this past Saturday in pole vault by clearing 18 feet 4-3/4 inches. The previous national record was 18 feet 3-1/2 inches.

Nilsen set the record during the Class 5 Sec 4 meet at Staley High School.

Nilsen told FOX 4 in  a previous interview that pole vaulting didn’t always come easily.

“I kind of planted the pole went up in the air a little bit and I said wait no and I started going backward and I landed on my butt,” Nilsen said of his first pole vaulting attempt as a freshman.

He continued falling backwards for the next two hours, but the school’s pole vaulting coach at the time, Stephanie Yuen, continued to encourage him. Yuen was his middle school English teacher and the reason he tried pole vaulting in the first place.

Before long the problem wasn’t clearing the bar, it was finding one high enough for Nilsen to vault over.

“I was like we’re going to have to get bigger than 17-foot standards, and my A.D. was like, yeah you are.”

Nilsen earned a scholarship to continue pole vaulting at the University of South Dakota. The high flyer also does the high jump for fun. Last year he finished fourth in the state in that competition.