Big Time Pole Vaulter: Bethany Buell, USD
by Kolbe Nelson
June 13, 2011 6:37 PM
Performing on a national level in division one college athletics can be pretty nerve racking, especially if you're the first person in the history of your school to do it, but USD pole vaulter Bethany Buell, our Taco John's Athlete of the Week didn't feel too much pressure this past weekend at the NCAA Outdoor Track Meet.
"I'm just thankful to represent the school and be able to put an athlete on the map and have people go, 'Oh, South Dakota, look at that' so I'm excited to be able to represent." Buell says.
Buell finished 13th and earned 2nd team All-American honors with a high mark of 13 feet, 1 and 1/2 inch. Not too shabby for a redshirt freshman who still has a ways to go before she meets her peak. And her success isn't much of a shocker to her coaches, Lucky Huber and former olympian Derek Miles.
"That was kind of our plan, we put together kind of a recruiting model to bring in someone like her that we could develop." Huber says, "You've got Coach Miles here who is a great pole vault coach obviously and took her underneath his wing and she really bought into the system that we have here and she's really improved a lot. So I wouldn't say we're surprised, but I like to say it's part of the plan and we're really happy with that."
So why did an athlete who clearly had strong talent like Buell pick a small school in Vermillion?
"I was actually kind of looking at three Big 12 schools and then South Dakota and it was just the most homey for me." Buell says, "Derek and Lucky are great, they make you feel so at home and welcome and Lucky treats us all like his daughters, like checking up on us and making sure we're safe, doing our work. And they genuinely care for you and care about how you're doing and how you're fitting in so it just felt the most comfortable."
And that comfort makes it easier for Buell to focus on one very profound, but reachable, goal. A goal she set for herself in the beginnings of her pole vault career.
"My mom just asked me, 'What are you doing with this?' like how far do you wanna go?" Buell says, "And I thought about it for a little while and I was like, 'I wanna go to the Olympics.' So that's been the goal, it's been in the back of my mind all this time and these are just kind of the stepping stones to get there."
Buell says she would like to try and qualify for next year's olympic trials, and then hopefully make a run at a medal in the 2016 games.Follow KDLT Weekend Sports Anchor Kolbe Nelson on Twitter at @KolbeNelson