Pole vaulter rides confidence to nationals

On February 27, Missouri Southern sophomore Michael Juergens won the pole-vault at the MIAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, qualifying for the national meet in the process.

He now has only one thing on his mind.

“Everybody’s telling me that if you make two bars you’ll make All-American,” Juergens said.  “I just brushed all that off.  All I want to do is I want to win.”

After qualifying for the National meet with a vault of just over 16 feet, Juergens says he’ll take it to the next level in Albuquerque, N.M.

“If it takes 17 foot to win, I’ll do it,” he said.  “I’ll do anything to win.”

His coaches call the confidence the former All-State pick displays the reason for his rise.

Juergens claimed a record vault of 14-feet-6-inches in high school, and he’s now jumping a full 18 inches higher.

“Last year we threw him into the fire, and he didn’t respond,” Head Coach Tom Rutledge said.

“He got his confidence back,” Assistant Coach Bryan Schiding added.

Juergens knows he struggled his freshman season.  He says that freshman season was tough but inspired him to do better.

“When I got to college as a freshman, it was an eye-opener,” he said. “Last year, I was just trying to survive, but this year I just want to win.”

It wasn’t just the tough season that helped him turn around his performance, though.

It was a speech from Schiding that really inspired him.

“He said, ‘I honestly think it’s confidence,’ and I really took that too heart,” the St. Clair, Mo., native said. “He’s really taken me under his wing.”

Juergens says that attention from Schiding means a lot to him, as Schiding is an accomplished pole-vault coach who has trained several All-Americans.

He credits Schiding, one of his favorite coaches, for most of his inspiration.

“From that moment, I went in with an attitude that I’m gonna win it.”

And win it he did.  

He’ll have the chance to put that attitude to use again this weekend as the NCAA Division-II Indoor Track & Field Championships kick off.