By David Fong
CASSTOWN — Blaine Brokschmidt would give an arm and a leg to participate in his favorite sport.
In fact, that’s practice what the Miami East senior pole vaulter had to do earlier this summer while competing in the New Balance Nationals Outdoor Emerging Elite track and field meet at North Carolina A&T University.
Brockschmidt battled through a nagging leg injury and a massive blister on his hand ripping open to place ninth out of 40 vaulters with a vault of 14-9.5.
“It was crazy,” Brokschmidt said of the experience. “The competition there was incredible. It was the toughest meet I’ve ever been to. I was talking to a lot of the guys before the meet and they all had PRs (personal records) that were really good. I’m thankful I got a chance to compete against that kind of competition.”
For a little while, it looked like he might not. During warm-ups, Brokschmidt’s leg — which had been bothering him during the high school season — began bothering him. That’s when Roger Bowen, Brokschmidt’s coach, had some helpful advice.
“I told him he was just going to have to ignore it,” Bowen said. “We didn’t drive all the way to North Carolina for him not to vault.”
Brokschmidt was able to keep vaulting, but once the competition began, he tore open a blister that had formed several weeks prior and had been continually tearing open in the practices leading up to the meet.
“I got it taped, but then the tape tore off,” Brokschmidt said. “I didn’t care. I knew I was going to keep jumping. I wasn’t going to let a little blister stop me.”
Even while battling through injuries, Brockschmidt was able to finish one spot away from making the podium. He cleared 13-9.5 and 14-3.5 before clearing 14-9.5. Had he cleared the next height, he would have finished the day on the podium. Brockschmidt’s personal record is 15-0, which he set at this year’s Division II regional meet. It’s also the school record. The following week at the Division II state meet, Brokschmidt placed fourth with a vault of 14-2. As a sophomore, he placed eighth at state.
While he didn’t vault as well as he had hoped at the national meet — he had hoped to at least better his personal record — Brockschmidt said he was glad to have the experience of competing against other top-tier pole vaulters.
“It was eye-opening to see how many other great vaulters are out there,” he said. “Pole vaulters from all over came. I met guys from Maryland, Pennsylvania, Florida — it was really cool getting to meet them. I’m glad I went, just for the experience. Not many people can say they’ve done something like that. “
Brokschmidt said the meet also was an opportunity to gain valuable college exposure.
“I know a lot of coaches talked to Roger,” he said.
Following the meet, Brokschmidt took much of the rest of the summer off to let some of his nagging injuries heal before the start of football camp. He was an All-Southwest District defensive back for the Vikings last fall. Following football season, Brokschmidt will turn his attention toward his final season as a Miami East pole vaulter.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Brokschmidt said of his senior season. “I’m just going to keep working and try to become the best vaulter I can be.”
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong