Milwaukee Vaultfest Highlights Popularity Of Vaulting

Saturday, July 2019 at the Gun Club Rugby Fields Along Lake Michigan. GetVertical Site | Vaultfest Site


A picture perfect day accented the outstanding competitors and presenters who made the first MKE Vaultfest a success. Elite competitors above L-R: Melissa Gergel [San Luis Obispo, CA], Bonnie Draxler [Wrightstown, All-Time Wisconsin Record Holder in the PV], GetVertical manager and leader Jason Shimko [Greater Milwaukee area], Mark Hollis [Knoxville, Tennessee ], George Davies who set a World Record in 1961 [Algoma, WI and Tempe, AZ], Leslie Brost [Minneapolis, MN], and Jack Szmanda [Minneapolis, MN]. .

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A valuable part of the Vaultfest was a Q & A session with the elite competitors. Above: Jason Shimko and Mark Hollis who vaulted 19' 00.25 earlier in the week. Right: A key organizer of this years event was Hannah Wallace. Wallace not only helped Jason Shimko put together the Vaultfest she competed in the days events. The idea of a Milwaukee Vaultfest began 5 years ago. Wallace who competed at WF Bay HS and Brown University spearheaded the planning for this years event.

Above the Q & A session:L-R: George Davies, Melissa Gergel, Leslie Brost, and Bonnie Draxler.

Left: Jason Shimko and Jack Szmanda.

Davies set his World Record in 1961 using a fiberglass pole. Sand and saw dust 'cushioned' the fall after a vault. He stated the fiberglass pole was easier on the body preventing the jarring body jolts received when using a metal/aluminum pole.

Gergel who competed at the University of Oregon and was a 7 time All-American counseled high school vaulters to go to a college where they will be happy and comfortable as coaches and programs often change during their competitive years at the next level.

Brost who competed for the Bisons of North Dakota State now competes as a professional vault athlete with the Twin Cities Track Club.

Draxler who is a San Diego State recruit delayed her trip to begin practice for the World Junior Championships for Team USA, ages 16-19 in order to participate in the MKE Vaultfest. She will compete in the 16th IAAF World Junior Championships at Historic Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon. University of Oregon IAAF World Junior Page.

Left: Szmanda is a multi-event athlete who competes professionally for the Twin Cities Track Club.

Former West Allis Central vaulter Nicole Larson now competes for the Mavericks of Minnesota State at Mankato

Above left and center: Northfield, MN vaulter Alexis Kiefer. Above right: Bonnie Draxler

Above center and above right photos by Maynard Miller who is the Janesville Parker PV coach

Above L-R: Rayce Albino [New Berlin West], Taylor Amann [Arrowhead graduate], Nicole Larson [West Allis Central graduate], Samantha Madrzak [Menomonee Falls graduate] and Marlena Wagner [Lena-St Thomas Academy graduate].

Above L-R: Katie Schroeder [Illinois], Morgan Zacharias [Reed Custer HS, Braidwood, IL-2014 State Champion], and a vaulter from Indiana.

Above L-R: Seventy vaulters from Minnesota, Illinolis, Wisconsin, and Indiana competed at Vaultfest. Stephanie Weber [2nd from left, Burlington, UW-Oshkosh] and Hannah Ciastro-Poor [2nd from right, Indiana].

Above L-R: Jeff Boeder the vault coach at West Allis Central and Jason Shimko observe the boys competition. Two vault runways and pits were available.

At MKE Vaultfest Mark Hollis set a new 'PR' with a jump of 19' 7/8 inches [5.82 meters]. You can see his new 'PR' jump at this link. Mark's Facebook page.