Jokes, camaraderie and hard work help Killdeer Fab Five thrive in pole vaulting

Top-10 Stories of 2016

No. 9

By definition, the nature of the sport is to use a pole to vault yourself to new heights. That’s exactly what five young pole vaulters for the Killdeer High School girls track team are doing. And in doing so, the Cowboys’ Fab Five are in a league of their own.


OK, so it might be a bit early to call sophomores Corrie Dobitz, Sydney Anderson, Rachel Kisse, Chenneth Morlock and freshman Steena Larsen the Fab Five. But in the last two meets, they have become a big hit by putting a strangle hold on the sport, showing a sort-of-Beatles-like dominance.

The pole vaulters captured the top five positions in Watford City Track Meet in Watford City. And to prove it was no fluke, the girls did it again a couple days later in Lemmon, S.D.

Yes, the Cowboys are flying high these days. But they are incredibly grounded. They know they are only as good as their last effort. And if they want to get better, they have to work at it.

“We really don’t realize how much of an impact we are making,” said Anderson. “We all know what we can do and we push each other to do it.”

They do it by giggling and razzing each other with good natured barbs. The jocularity binds them together, forginga trust and commitment to each other and to the sport.

And each were quick to point that their success also stems from guidance of their pole vaulting coach, Andy Murphy, who is also the boys head coach. They say it’s a great advantage of have a coach with his experience in the event and to be able to learn from his knowledge.

“He has a lot of faith in us,” said Morlock.

“Too much, sometimes,” joked Kisse.

She was kidding, of course.

The pole vaulters started practicing the event the first week of March. And they usually don’t get out of practice until 6 or 6:30 p.m. each night. But before they did one vault, they spent three weeks working on their form. The put the pole against the wall in the gymnasium and worked on steps, approach and technique.

Not real exciting, but necessary. And it’s paying off.

Dobitz has led the way, winning two gold medals and a silver in the Cowboys’ three meets this year. She opened the season with a silver medal in the Bison-Miner Classic in Hazen, then followed that up with victories at the Watford City Track Meet and the Dakota Relays in Lemmon, S.D.

And, she has already qualified for a return trip to the North Dakota state high school track and field championships later this month by clearing 9 feet in Watford City.

But the others are right on her tail.

Anderson, state-qualifier last year and who tied Dobitz for ninth at the state meet, has two silver medals to her credit this season, in Watford City and South Dakota.

Larsen tied Anderson at the Dakota Relays, placed fourth in Watford City and tied for sixth at the Bison-Minor Classic.

Morlock placed sixth in Hazen, won a bronze medal at Watford City and was fifth in South Dakota.

Kisse was fifth in Watford City and fourth in South Dakota.

They all have cleared seven feet this year, which is just a few marks away from the state-qualifying standard.

But they don’t talk about that. They know will come if they continue to do what they’re doing.

In the meantime, they will continue to razz each other, make jokes and laugh at each other’s expense.

“With this group of girls, it’s not boring,” Kisse said.

Although the Fab Five are underclassmen, most are pretty seasoned in the sport. Dobitz, Anderson and Larsen started as seventh-graders.

“You know, as seventh-graders, you’re kind of adventurous,” said Anderson, beaming with a mischievous smile.

Kisse took up the sport as a freshman while Morlock picked it up this year.

“The adrenalin about going in the air is really fun,” Kisse said.

“It’s kind of scary,” admitted Dobitz.

“Especially when you fall,” chuckled Anderson, which drew a chorus of hoots from her teammates.

And when asked to share, she hesitated a second, rolled her eyes and smiled.

“I was going up and I let go of the pole. I got a little intimidated and you can’t get intimidated. You just have to go and do it,” Anderson said.

She admitted being embarrassed after falling on her back side, which brought more needling from her teammates.

Kisse hasn’t had the experience of the others, but she is so eager. She didn’t track in junior high school because her family didn’t have time to bring her in for practice because of work on the family ranch.

“But once I got my license …” her voice trailed off, her eyes twinkled and that smile made her look like the cat the swallowed the canary.

Kisse assured everybody that she is the safest driver, which the girls responded with giggles and rolling eyes.

Morlock participated and track in junior high. And she even tried pole vaulting each of the previous three years – for one day.

“I guess she couldn’t get past those first three weeks,” Anderson needled, again getting a cackle of chuckles. “We told her you have to do it for at least three weeks this time.”

Morlock shrugged her shoulders and sheepishly smiled.

“I know I wouldn’t be able to function without these guys around,” Dobitz said with a comfortable smile.

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