High School Sports

Vaulter heads to national meet

Brett Squibbs practices at the Winthrop Track on Monday
Brett Squibbs practices at the Winthrop Track on Monday

Brett Squibbs has always been the younger little brother who tagged along.

At 5-foot-4 and 95 pounds, he's still not very big, and he's still young, a rising eighth-grader at Saluda Trail Middle School. But if you listen to his dad, Bryan, Brett could end up reaching heights his father and three older brothers never cleared.

A pole vaulter, Brett is tied for second-best in the 13-year-old age division in the country. This afternoon, he's headed to California, where he will compete in the USATF Junior Olympics National Championships.

"I wouldn't be spending all this money and taking him if I didn't think he had a chance to win,'' his dad said. "Considering what he's done this year, I think Brett has as good a chance as the other two in the top three.

"You never know how a kid will progress and don't know how the physics will work out. You just hope he gets better and better. He's already ahead of where his older brothers were. I've never seen a 13-year-old kid clear 10 feet.''

Ryan, the oldest of the brothers, and Jeff, the second oldest, pole vaulted at Northwestern. Ryan was all-region. Jeff was ranked third in the nation his senior year and placed eighth in the Nationals at Miami, Fla.

Terry will be in South Pointe High School's first senior class this year. He qualified for the state meet last spring, but didn't place.

The leader of the pack is Bryan, who holds the pole vault record at his high school, Pyatuning Valley in Andover, Ohio -- 12 feet, 7 3/4 inches. Bryan pole vaulted at Finley College in Ohio and is still involved with the sport. He works at Samuel Strapping Systems in Fort Mill and gives private lessons. He coached vaulters at Northwestern before moving to South Pointe to help his sons and the other Stallions' vaulters.

"Pole vaulting was something I always wanted to do growing up,'' Brett said. "I wasn't pushed to do it. I wanted to do it because of my dad and brothers.

"I'm really happy to have my dad coaching me. He's never been my coach in school. I wanted to work with him and get good so I can help the team.''

Brett would have been on the track and field team at Saluda Trail, but the school didn't have pole vaulting. He had to join the team at South Pointe as a seventh-grader.

"When my brothers were at Northwestern, I'd watch them compete,'' Brett said. "And I'd listen to my dad talk about going 12 and 14 feet in college. It looked and sounded like fun, and I couldn't wait to get started. And I'd talk to Mitch (Greeley) a lot. That's when I started getting serious.''

Greeley, the former Northwestern standout, holds the South Carolina state record of 16-9 set in 2004. Greeley, a rising senior at Clemson, holds the Tigers' school record at 17-7.

Brett said Greeley often comes to South Pointe meets when he is home and offers encouragement. When Brett won the Regional in Richmond, Va., with a vault of 10-11 to qualify for the Nationals, the first person he called was Greeley.

"I don't get nervous because I don't want the older vaulters to think they are better than me,'' Brett said. "Mitch talks to me about things like that. He also gives me advice, things like I need to get more vertical, the kind of things my dad tells me.''

Considering his age and progress, Brett appears bound for stardom.

"I trained Mitch and Brett has the same kind of talent,'' Bryan said. "To watch Brett vault, you never would think he's a kid going into the eighth grade.

"I kid with Brett and tell him he's close to breaking my high school record. It's only a matter of time.''

Brett weighs in and checks in his poles Wednesday at 11 a.m. to be inspected and rated. The competition begins Thursday at noon.

Winning a National Championship would be "great'' Brett said. But his goal is to one day break Greeley's state record.

"I haven't told him that yet, but some day I might be able to call him and tell him that,'' Brett said. "But first I've got to get better and when I do, I'm going to break it.''