COLUMBUS — Grant Stadler has only been pole vaulting for one year.
When he applied to Concordia University in Seward, he simply listed track as an interest on his application.
On Thursday, the Columbus High senior signed his letter of intent to vault in college for the Bulldogs.
“It’s awesome,” Stadler said. “It’s something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time.”
When Concordia head coach Matt Beisel saw track was an interest of Stadler’s, he decided to do some research on him. He liked what he learned.
After Stadler came to one of Concordia’s camps so the pole vault coach could watch him in person, they were sold.
“Grant’s going to be able to come in and be an impact player for us possibly as early as his freshman year,” Beisel said.
Stadler is the latest in a line of college-bound vaulters for the Discoverers. Alyssa Downs, who won the Class A state title as a senior, signed with the University of Sioux Falls out of high school. That same year, Austin Loeffelholz signed with the University of Nebraska at Kearney to pole vault.
“It’s just been one of those things we’ve invested in,” Columbus head boys track coach Patrick Clark said. “We’ve always had good coaching ... and then we have athletes that are willing to do the work.”
Now, Stadler is following this tradition.
“It’s great knowing you’re in good hands and that there’s been people before you that have succeeded,” Stadler said. “It adds another skip to your step.”
Entering his second season as a vaulter, Stadler has big goals for himself.
“I want to clear 13 feet and I really want to make state,” he said.
He has a personal best of 11-6 and Clark expects big improvements in 2018.
“He has a good foundation and we can continue to build off that this year and then Concordia is going to reap those benefits down the road,” Clark said.
Beisel has even bigger goals for Stadler once he gets to campus and starts focusing on the pole vault full time. Starting in the fall, he’ll be vaulting three days a week along with speed drills and Olympic lifting.
“When we get him, we’ll work all fall and he’ll get a lot stronger and faster than he’s ever been before,” Beisel said. “My pole vault coach, Jason Berry, is very well-known for taking kids and moving them to the next level.”
The Concordia head coach can’t wait to see where Stadler is by the second part of his collegiate career.
“He can really do something with a couple more years of development,” Beisel said.