Bryce Bearden finally decided to take pole vault seriously, and the decision seems to have paid off.
In each of his first two competitions this season, the Platte County senior set a school record in the event, providing optimism at his ability to keep literally raising the bar. Bearden cleared 14 feet even during Pirate Flight Night on Friday, March 31 at Pirate Stadium, outdueling sophomore teammate Jacob Laures for first place.
Just more than a week earlier, Bearden cleared 13-7 in a quad at Kearney to break Mike Wade’s school record set back in 2002. Bearden enters just his third season in the event, already having shown his progression from a year ago.
“It was definitely a good feeling to break it, but I know I can go higher,” Bearden said.
Six years ago, Platte County assistant coach Jamar Parrish suggested Bearden give pole vault a try. He finally took up the event as a sophomore, and in 2016, advanced to the Class 4 Sectional 4 competition.
Bearden cleared a personal-best 13-0 and tied with departed teammate Payton Sheehan for fifth place — just 6 inches away from a potential berth in the Class 4 Missouri State Track and Field Championships. In the offseason, Bearden began taking private lessons, and he even gave up participation in diving during the winter to further his pursuit of pole vault.
“I’d say it was worth it to dedicate my time to it,” Bearden said.
After setting the school record to open the season, the next opportunity for Bearden came in the field-events-only home meet.
Three teams backed out late due to scheduling conflicts, and the only entries in the pole vault were Platte County athletes. Laures provided some competition, clearing a personal-best 12-6 before turning the competition over to Bearden, who cleared 13-0 on his first try.
Bearden then went straight to 14-0 and bettered his school record on the next attempt. He missed on three attempts at 14-6 but showed off the potential for the rest of the season.
Platte County’s pole vaulting program has shown big strides in recent years under assistant coach Courtland Ingram. Sheehan, now vaulting at Northwest Missouri State, and now Laures have provided good competition within the team helping push Bearden to new heights.
“I think I do better when everyone is clearing good bars, and that’s what we did today,” he said.