Brooke Bowers aspires to fulfill her pole vaulting dreams


Freshman Brooke Bowers can jump as high as two refrigerators stacked on top of each other. She can jump two feet higher than a basketball hoop, and she jumps over twelve feet on pole vault. 

“My highest outdoor [record] is twelve feet and one inch,” Brooke said, “and a few weeks ago at an indoor meet, I jumped twelve feet and six inches, but I didn’t get credit because you only get three attempts. My coach just gave me an extra attempt, [so] it didn’t count.” 

While a few weeks ago Brooke came close to jumping twelve feet and six inches, this goal is no longer on her bucket list. At a recent meet, Brooke set a new personal record of twelve feet, six inches; she now holds the freshman indoor state record.

Brooke is an accomplished pole vaulter. She vaults year-round, about three times per week, on a team for Landon Athleticswhich is located about an hour away. Brooke began as a gymnast and credits the training required in gymnastics for part of her pole vaulting success. Pole vaulting originated as a gymnastics exercise but later became a track and field event, intertwining her gymnastics and track experiences.

It made [the sport] a lot more fun being able to travel with [my sister].”

“[Gymnastics] helped a lot because if I [hadn’t done]  gymnastics, I’d probably be scared to go upside down,” Brooke said. “I think it’s helped with strength [too], and there’s a lot of drills that you can do in pole vaulting that we did in gymnastics.”

For Brooke, pole vaulting is not only an extension of her gymnastics career but also a family activity as her cousin and sister pole vault as well. Brooke’s cousin, from Fremont, Ohio, is the reason she began pole vaulting. After learning the basics from watching her cousin’s meets, she eventually went to one of her cousin’s practices which kickstarted Brooke’s very own pole vaulting career.

“My cousin goes to Ashland [University], and she’s vaulting in college,” Brooke said, “but my sister and I are on the same team.”

Brooke enjoys the family aspect and the camaraderie she has with her sport. She especially likes pole vaulting with her sister and the encouragement they give one another.

“It made [the sport] a lot more fun being able to travel with [my sister],” Brooke said. “She’s getting pretty good, and it’s good for her to pole vault with me because we can both help each other. She’s doing stuff that I’m trying to fix, and I’m doing stuff she’s trying to fix, so we work well together.”

Brooke is resilient and persistent which has served her well in the sportshe knows how to regain focus and has the experience to make a mistake as a learning experience and better herself each and every time. 

“I remember I was at a state meet a few years ago,” Brooke said, “[and] it was my first official meet. I was so nervous that during the warm-up jumps, I tripped when I was running down the runway, and I slammed my back onto the standards, and it was just so scary. It messed me up, but I kept vaulting after that. Even though I was in pain, I still got back up and vaulted at the meet, and I did [well], but it was scary because I was young, and it was a bad experience.”

Pole vaulting has also made for some fun travel, but Brooke always keeps her eyes on personal development. Brooke had a memorable trip to North Carolina which not only spurred her competitive spirit but also provided fun leisure time. When competing in North Carolina, Brooke took fourth place.

“I went to North Carolina, and I vaulted at the outdoor nationals,” Brooke said. “That’s the farthest I’ve traveled for pole vaulting. It was fun because I was up against older girls, and it was good to have tough competition because I pushed myself. It was a cool experience because it was outdoors, and it felt official.” 

Brooke holds the indoor state records for seventh grade, eighth grade, and ninth grade in addition to the outdoor state records she set in sixth, seventh, and eighth grade. Nationally, Brooke is ranked first in the country for freshman girls, beating Athletic Net’s (an athletic website’s) previous record holder who jumped eleven feet, six inches.

The current women’s record for pole vaulting is sixteen feet and seven inches, a score set by Yelena Gadzhievna Isinbayeva in 2009. She was twenty seven when she set that record, which leaves plenty of time for Brooke to continue to reach heights even higher.

Brooke has no plan to keep her feet on the ground; she already knows what she wants to do at the end of her high school career. 

“[Playing in college] is my long term goal,” Brooke said. “[Ideally, I’ll] continue pole vaulting in college at a good school and hopefully after that [as well].”