Principia's Bollinger 4th at Nationals

Principia's Bollinger 4th at Nationals

Conrad Bollinger and 19 other pole vaulters geared up for what would be the first, long and exciting day of the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field National Championships at St. Lawrence University. As the sun set, the men's pole vault developed into the final event of Day 1. Temperatures dropped several degrees, but that didn't deter any of the vaulters in the least.

Bollinger and his coach Phillip Green had realized that the strategy going in was to jump and clear 5.19 meters (17 feet 1/4 inch) for his personal goal. Bollinger had a shaky start, but was able to clear the opening height of 4.59 meters (15 feet) with a couple feet below him as he soared over the bar. He passed the next height and jumped at a 4.84-meter bar. He missed on the first attempt, then made some adjustement to his running approach and cleared the height with ease. After realizing how much effort he would need to put into the goal height, his coach had him pass the next height and jump at 4.94 meters (16 feet 2 inches). Bollinger cleared that height on the first attempt and advanced to the next bar surpassing 15 fellow competitors toward his first podium finish at an outdoor national championships after only finishing 16th place last year. He cleared 4.99 meters on his second attempt after holding higher on his grip. He cleanly went over the bar at 5.04 meters for a new personal best. After he cleared 5.09 meters on his second attempt, his coach and the crowd gave a loud cheer. Now, things were getting really exciting! Bollinger had already set three outdoor school records in an hour.

With four vaulters left, his coach knew the stakes were high. Bollinger was the only vaulter remaining in competition who had not cleared 17 feet. His coach instructed him to pass to 5.19 meters (17 feet 1/4 inch). All along, Bollinger was planning to jump at this height and needed to expend his best efforts at this goal height to clear it. Sitting in third place was Tim Moses of Messiah College, and if Conrad were to take third he would have to clear 5.19 meters. Bollinger gave his best efforts with a new 14-step approach and a new inventory of poles in hopes of clearing his goal height. Bollinger had some great opportunities at the 17-foot height, but neither he or Moses cleared 5.19 meters.

Bollinger finished in fourth place for his highest finish at the outdoor track and field national championships! He was supported by teammates, a former high school teammate, coaches, and the Bollinger family on the sidelines. 

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