Pole vaulters earn No. 1, No. 2 ranks nationally

Missouri Southern’s pole vaulting squad has proved to be consistent once more.

Within the first two meets of the season, seniors Matt Campbell and Kyle Rutledge earned their tickets to the national indoor meet in March.

Campbell cleared 17-0.75 for a second place finish at the Arkansas Invitational Jan. 13.

Rutledge vaulted 16-6.75 for a third place finish the first week before earning an automatic mark to nationals the following week with a winning vault of 16-8.75.

Meanwhile, sophomore Russell Ellis received a provisional mark in the event with 15-7.

Campbell and Rutledge are ranked first and second in the nation, respectively, for D-II pole vault.

The men find it helpful to have the close competitors practice together.

“Kyle and I push each other a lot,” Campbell said.

The three Lions were part of the squad that went 1-5 at last year’s outdoor conference meet.

Campbell also won the event and Rutledge placed third at the national outdoor meet in 2005.

Rutledge said a goal would be good for them to get the top spots in the nation again.

“It’s looking real good,” Campbell said.

Also earning a provisional mark was the distance medley relay with a new university record in the second week of competition at the Razorback Invitational.

The team consisting of freshman Ryan McPeak and Dustin Dixon, sophomore Kyle Davis and junior Marcus Walton came in 20 seconds faster than the 1994 Southern record with a time of 10:00.35.

With this record-shattering time in the DMR, they came in sixth at Arkansas.

Davis also earned an individual provisional mark when he finished in 4:15.36 in the mile at the Razorback Invitational.

Head men’s track and field coach Tom Rutledge said the team’s strengths will be the field events and distances races.

Campbell agreed.

“The distance team is looking real good and so are the field events,” he said.

Rutledge also said team chemistry is good and the team comes out and does their work.

There are more than 10 freshmen on the team, but most of them ran were on the conference championship team this year.

“We’ve got a lot of young kids, but they’re good ones,” Tom said.

Campbell said by the time conference rolls around the team will be focused and ready to compete.

“It’s a good group of guys that work hard,” Kyle said.

“We’ll be right up there in the thick of them for the conference title. We’ll have to come out and give our best.”

The MIAA indoor conference meet will be held at Southern this year on Feb. 24-25.

Some of the Lions will be competing next at the University of Kansas Jan. 27-28. The team will compete at home Feb. 3-4.