By Mike Lee (special to Big Country Preps)
Photos by Calvin Best, Breckenridge ISD
The pole vault and high jump often are scheduled simultaneously at invitational track and field meets because so few athletes do both events.
No problem for Braden Campbell, the Breckenridge senior who has the top marks in Region I-3A of 15 feet, 6 inches in the vault and 6-6 in the high jump.
“I normally talk to whoever is running each event and tell them that I’m in both the pole vault and high jump,” Campbell said. “Most of the time, they’re good about working with me, giving me an extra five minutes before they move up to the next height.
“A few times when they were done with the competition, they even let me vault by myself and start at whatever height I wanted.”
Campbell scored 32 points at the recent District 7-3A meet and qualified for Monday’s District 7-3A/8-3A area meet at Jacksboro in four events: the pole vault, high jump, 110-meter hurdles and 300 hurdles. His best marks include a 15.2 in the 110 hurdles and 41.8 in the 300 hurdles.
Mark Young, Breckenridge’s first-year track coach, said Campbell’s marks rank No. 1 in Region I-3A in the pole vault and high jump, and in the top five in both hurdle races. Campbell’s sights are set farther than regional.
“My goal since the season began is to try my best to get to state in everything I do,” the 6-foot-2, 165-pound Campbell said. “I have to improve my hurdle times to do that. My coaches are working with me on that right now.”
Campbell began practicing his unusual field event combination in the seventh grade. “We were testing all our physical skills, and one of them was the vertical leap. I had a decent vertical leap so the coach wanted me to try the high jump. I just thought pole vaulting looked cool so I asked the coach if I could try it, too,” he said.
He picked up the hurdles within the last two years as a way to help the Buckaroos score more points at their district meet. He tried the 300 hurdles for the first time five days before this year’s district meet and turned in a respectable 41.8.
“Coach Young told me that the first one to the first hurdle usually wins in the 300 hurdles,” Campbell said. “I left the blocks in a dead sprint for that first hurdle. I died at about the 250 (meter) mark, but I had a big enough lead to hold everybody off.”
Competing in four events that all require significant technique work, Campbell typically spends four hours or more at each practice.
“He’s the first one there and the last one to leave,” Young said. “Braden is one of those kids that will do whatever we ask him. If we needed him to run on any of our three relays, he would. He’s listed as an alternate on our 4×100, 4×200 and 4×400 relays for the regional meet.”
Campbell’s versatility and willingness should project well for trying the decathlon at West Texas A&M, where he signed a NCAA Division II scholarship. The decathlon is a two-day, 10-event competition that includes the 100 meters, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400, 110 hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and 1500.
“I’ve told every coach I’ve ever had that I’m willing to try anything,” Campbell said. “The WT coaches said I already knew how to do two of the most complicated events (pole vault and high jump).”
Young said, “If I told Braden that I thought we could win district if he would run the 800, he’d run it and place in the top six. That’s why I think he’ll make a good decathlete.”