WIU pole vaulter competes at National Outdoor Meet


Photo By Nate Barrett Photography


EUGENE, Ore. – The historic, record-breaking season of Western Illinois University pole vaulter Arnie Grunert came to an end on Wednesday at the NCAA National Outdoor Meet held in Eugene, Oregon.

Grunert put on one last strong display this season, finishing in a tie for 17th in the country. The finish earned him Honorable Mention All-American.

“We are so proud of Arnie and his accomplishments this year,” track and field coach Trey Brokaw said. “He’s a great example of where hard work and a winning attitude can get someone. He has a very bright future in the sport and I am confident he will be back at the NCAA Championships again in the future.”

Grunert opened the meet, clearing the first height of 16 feet, 7.5 inches on his second attempt. At the second height, the sophomore did not mess around, clearing 17-1.5 on his first attempt. Grunert did not clear the third height, 17-7.25, ending the year.

The day did not go off without incident, as malfunctioning equipment nearly ended his run at Nationals before it started.

“In warm-ups, Arnie broke a pole in half, shattering it mid-jump,” Brokaw said. “Other than minor bruises and cuts, he was physically okay to keep jumping. Mentally, that can really shake the confidence of some vaulters launching themselves upside down, 18 feet in the air. Even though he’s just a sophomore, Arnie showed tremendous poise to work through that issue and still finish top-20 in the NCAA. Coach Tom Unruh has done a fantastic job developing Arnie and preparing him for these elite performances we’ve seen over the past season.”

And it was quite the year in the pole vault for Grunert, capturing both the Ohio Valley Conference Indoor and Outdoor Meet titles, setting new program records in both the indoor and outdoor meet, and becoming the first Leatherneck male athlete to qualify for the NCAA Outdoor Meet Championships since 2014.

“I’m hopeful that the performances of our entire track & field team this season have proven the Leathernecks can have a winning presence in the Ohio Valley Conference and NCAA for many years to come in all sports,” Brokaw said. 

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