Barkdull adds to family lore with meet-record pole vault

Bryce Barkdull.
Bryce Barkdull.(Selena Favela | KWCH)
Published: May. 27, 2023 at 11:11 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - It’s not just a group of numbers Andover Central junior pole vaulter Bryce Barkdull is chasing. It’s a legacy.

Barkdull has blown through his list of goals this season, scratching off heights throughout the year that hardly pose a challenge now.

At the Class 5A meet Saturday at Wichita State’s Cessna Stadium, Barkdull set the meet record at 17 feet, 1 inch. It was more than five inches short of his state-best and No. 2 national jump of 17-6 1/4 earlier this year but better than his brother Ashton’s meet record that the older Barkdull got to hold for all of one year.

Next up, his dad Ryan’s personal best of 18-6. Ryan competed at Wichita State and is in the Shocker Sports Hall of Fame, and Ashton is jumping in NCAA regionals with the University of Kansas.

“This is a really big jump for what I think I could have achieved this year,” Bryce Barkdull said. “I had my eyes of 16 for the first few months, and then I actually got it. Then I was like let’s get five meters, 16-5, and I blew through that in the next few weeks.

“It was out-of-my-mind insane. So no, I had no idea I would jump this high this year.”

Barkdull, as is his custom, waited until every other 5A competitor jumped before he took his turn. He quickly earned the state championship -- by a foot, then set his sights even higher, literally and figuratively.

He skipped 15 feet, cleared 15-6 and then kept going up until, behind the motivational cheers of fans from all over the state, cleared 17-1. He missed his next three jumps in an effort for the national best this year.

“The crowd was sure helping me out a lot and so was the adrenaline,” Barkdull said. “The wind was kind of inconsistent, so I was hoping to get whatever I could -- win a state championship and maybe set some records. I did that, so I’m happy today.”

With his Saturday performance -- his entire junior season, really -- Barkdull stepped firmly out of the shadows. Last year, he finished second to his brother. And with national records in his sights, it’s difficult to say his dad’s marks are out of reach.

“The progression, just getting better every day -- it’s like, ‘I know he can jump higher, then he jumps higher,’” Ryan Barkdull said. “And then holy cow, he’s got a lot left in him. I just don’t know where the ceiling is.”

The family rivalry is friendly and supportive. Ryan is Bryce’s coach, confidant and motivator. He was behind a barrier to watch his son Saturday, giving some last-second advice before Bryce’s final jump.

“He just tells me run faster, jump a little higher, be more powerful,” Bryce Barkdull said. “That’s mainly what we focus on in meets.”

Away from meets, the conversations aren’t much different between a pole-vaulting family -- especially in the spring, when records are broken, legacies are made and last names are cemented into state history.

Even ones we’ve heard before.

“It’s sure really competitive between me and my brother,” Bryce Barkdull said. “I’m still getting up to chasing my dad’s record -- I’m still a little bit out from that; maybe next year. I’ve got a ways to go. It’ll be really fun competing against records and family and everything like that.

“It’s a really great little community we’ve built. It’s awesome.”