HELENA -- If only every Saturday Farmer’s Market had a pole vaulting exhibition.
The Last Chance Pole Vault Festival occupied Women’s Park Saturday. Over 20 pole vaulters chased new heights on a sunny Saturday morning and afternoon. The event was put on by Rocky Mountain Athletics.
“The event is always a great success when you can get that many vaulters in one group and they’re all jumping to have fun,” RMA founder and Helena High pole vault coach Bill Hurford said.
Two raised wood platforms adjacent of the sidewalk running through Women’s Park created the vault runways. At their end, a full pit, giving vaulters the proper landing zone. Two pits -- Pit A and Pit B -- separated competitors with two spaces to perform.
All of this happened just east of Fuller Avenue and the tents of various vendors as Saturday’s Farmer’s Market ran as usual. Only this weekend, a pole vaulting exhibition unfolded nearby.
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Music blared from four speakers at the center of the park, in between both pits. While plenty of Queen and Michael Jackson dominated the playlist, pop hits from across decades played, too. Bystanders settled in under the shade, sitting against trees or setting up camping chairs to take the whole scene in.
As the temperatures crawled into the 80s, a blue sky hung overhead. Clouds moved through during the day, and a slight breeze was felt, but conditions were mostly optimal for pole vaulting.
A yoga class took place on the east end of the park, giving onlookers a mix of activities on hand.
Carroll College pole vaulter Keaton Brady had the top vault of the day, going 14-foot-1. Other placers in the top flight group were Vincent Davison (second, 13-7), Caleb Ferguson (third, 13-7), Ty Peterson (fourth, 12-11) and Jon Tripp (12-11).