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Thank you to everyone that helped at the 2018 event!

The women's top height was 11'06" by Josie Puelz in the High School Girls division. The men's top height was 16'00" by Nicholas Homan in the men's Elite division. 

Year of the kids!

Highlights were Jacie Evans clearing 3'06" Elementary Girls division as a 6 year old. Then Cealen Harland setting a new Elementary Boys division record of 10'00" as an 11 year old. Proved that the little kids are pretty competitive.

Division winners were... (for full results see link to right of page)

Elementary Girls  Tayler Evans 6'06"
Elementary Boys  Cealen Harland 10'00" **New Record**
Middle School Girls  Mya Zohner 9'06"  
Middle School Boys  Dane Conner 7'06"
High School Girls  Josie Puelz 11'06"  
High School Boys  Skyler Peterson 14'00"  
College Women  Jacee Pfeifer 10'06"   
College Men  Kevin Cahoy 15'00"  
Open Women  N/A

Open Men  Nicholas Homan 16'00"  
Masters Women  N/A

Masters Men  Brad Millard 11'06"  
We are looking froward to next years event, hopefully bigger and better than ever!

4th of July Pole Vault on TV

A special thank you to Alex Heinert at Midco Sports Network for including us as part of their TV program. Alex produced this piece about our 4th of July pole vault competition we hold every year. He did a great job on the video.

Now I’m excited for next summer!!! Learn more about our 4th of July Street Vault Competition on the 4th of July page on this site.

Men's Meet Record, Jeremy Scott, 2006, 18'00"

Women's Meet Record, Natalie Willer, 2008, 13'06"

Our first 4th of July competition took place in 1990. Some things have changed since then. The original competition included about 18 top college male vaulters from colleges in and around Nebraska. It was held as entertainment for the crowds gathering for the firework display at Concordia College's football field. Women's pole vault was not a sport and the mullet was a popular hair style... Yes, things have changed.

Since then the fireworks got moved to Plum Creek and we moved the pole vault competition to the downtown streets of Seward, NE. Women's pole vaulting is now a sport on the high school, college and world level. Concordia changed its name to Concordia University. The football field in now turf and there is a big new field house and arena on the hill side where the fireworks were launched from. And thankfully the mullet hair cut is no longer around, for the most part.

Most notably, the biggest change is the amount of vaulters that show up to vault. That small group of 18 has grown to over 80 boys, girls, men, women and a few of the original 18 still picking up a pole to vault. It is now one of the oldest active street vault competition in the country. It is a great event that gives vault enthusiasts a chance to show their vaulting skills in a relaxed but competitive atmosphere. Over the years the competitive levels have soared, the crowds have grown and have become a favorite of the spectators attending Seward's Annual 4th of July activities and celebrations.

Today athletes from around the Nebraska and the United States come to participate and watch the annual event. We have had competitors from NY, IN, IL, MN, TX, MO, KS, SD, CO, OK, NM, WY and CA to mention a few. The competition divisions include, Masters, Open, College, High School and Youth for both men and women.

Contact information
E-mail Jason Berry at: jason@vaultdogs.com

In the News

4th of July vault continues to captivate holiday audiences

By Jake Knabel, Sports Information Director

The first 4th of July Pole Vault Competition looked much different than the one that now takes place on the historic downtown streets of Seward, Nebraska. Sparked by the competitive fire of Gene Brooks, then an elite pole vaulter at Concordia, roughly 30 top-notch area college athletes took part in the first holiday pole vault event in 1990.

Twenty-four years later, the great athletic spectacle is a wildly popular – and still growing – staple of Seward’s famed July 4 celebration.

“It was an excuse to get our buddies together and some of the guys we jumped with and have fun,” said Jason Berry, now in his eighth year as the lead organizer of the event. “Then we hit the street and with the novelty, excitement, the music and the crowds, it just started feeding on itself. The popularity grew.”

Initially, the pole vault competition played out on the Concordia University campus. Up until 1997, the Seward fireworks were displayed right at the stadium, drawing an audience of thousands to a venue that was then just a shell of what is now Bulldog Stadium. Brooks, currently Concordia’s Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, saw an opportunity to stage a competition in front of a large audience.

“I’m over there 9 at night,” said Brooks of an Independence Day early in his college career as a Bulldog vaulter. “Thousands of people are converging. In every direction you looked everything was full, all gathered around the football field. There wasn’t a whole lot going on before the fireworks. I’m thinking, ‘how sweet would that be to put on a show for these people?’”

In the years to come, Brooks would spearhead the operation along with Berry (current Concordia pole vault coach). Both of whom became accomplished Concordia vaulters and both future coaches of the sport. And both seemed to realize they had something special, even from the very first go round. The event got another boost when it moved to the Seward streets, with the city’s approval, in 1997.

From its beginnings as an event with a basic purpose of providing high-level college athletes a summer competition to its present state in which virtually all ages are welcome, the Fourth of July pole vault has been a smashing success. Everything came together without a clear trajectory when it first commenced.

“We had no idea,” Berry said. “We didn’t sit there and say ‘this is our business plan on how we’re going to develop street vault.’ It was, this is what we want to do for fun. It just went.”

It went so well that Berry does not even have to worry about promotion or marketing. More than 80 participants of varying ages showed up last year, and at least that many can be expected again in 2014 according to Berry.

What’s even more incredible is the spectrum of people that flock to Seward. It’s not uncommon for children as young as four or five years old or adults well over 40 to take part.

And they come from coast-to-coast, including residents of California and New York. Berry says the current list of registries pulls from Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Minnesota, South Dakota and Colorado.

“We literally had to pull it back because we couldn’t handle all the people who competed,” Brooks said. “But we didn’t want this to be just for elite competitors. We wanted a mixture of a whole range of people. My kids competed at four and five years old.

“Now it’s expanded to two runways. I thought Jason was crazy for doing that considering how much work it was just to set up one.”

Berry, who took over the role of point man from Brooks, believed a second runway and pit were needed to make the event run much quicker. In reality, the second runway (built by Berry himself) allowed the number of competitors to explode even more. Despite a start time early in the morning, it remains a challenge to complete the competition by the time the parade begins at 4 p.m.

“The morning of the fourth we’re usually there at 6:30 in the morning,” Berry said. “We get to hear the anvil firing. The runway opens for warm ups at 8 o’clock. That means people start showing up at 7:15-7:30. Every year my goal is to get done by 1 or 2 o’clock and we never get done until like 5. The goal lately has been to get done by the time the parade starts.”

The length of the competition never seems to bother the throng of onlookers, some first-timers amazed at the spectacle of a street vault sprawled across 4th Street, just down from Sparetime Lounge & Grill. Fans gather on all sides, and they get into it. All of these factors combine for a special experience. Just ask 2014 Concordia graduate and All-American Shelby Yelden, who will be jumping on the 4th for the 10th time.

“Part of it is the raised wooden runway is a fast runway,” Yelden said. “So then there’s usually a lot of PR’s on the Fourth. It’s a lot of fun. There are a lot of people around town walking by that see it. Some people don’t even know it’s going on and you tell them. They’re like, ‘what, you vault in the street?’”

That type of reaction has become less common as the word continues to spread. Seward represents more than just a holiday getaway for many of the top high school vaulters in the state. In return, Berry’s Bulldog pole vault program receives a recruiting boost.

“If you look at our recruits over the years, the majority of them jumped on the Fourth of July,” Berry said. “As far as recruiting, all the good pole vaulters in the state know about the Fourth. It’s a destination for them. They talk about it. Kids will be out at state track and one of the good vaulters will say, ‘I’m going to go jump on the Fourth.’ Next thing you know it spreads. It’s fun to overhear that.”

Fun is what the 4th of July Pole Vault Competition is all about. Berry and Brooks never got into it for financial gain.

“We’ve never made a lot of money on it,” Brooks said. “One year we didn’t do it because it’s so much work. The Seward 4th of July committee approached us and said, ‘would you please bring it back?’” There were people that were disappointed it wasn’t there. Now it’s become a staple. People walk by and they pause and stand there. They spend hours watching it.”

Those long hours that begin with set up on the night of July 3 are all worth it for Berry. There’s just one other thing he’d like to indulge in on Friday.

Says Berry, “my goal every year is to get a funnel cake. I never get done in time to get a funnel cake.”

Due to Covid-19 limitations the 2020 4th of July Competition is Cancelled

Event Division Records

Overall Mens  Jeremy Scott  18'00
Overall Womens  Natalie Willer  13'06
Elementary Girls  Mya Zohner 7'10
Elementary Boys  Cealen Harland 10'06
Middle School Girls  Jessica Williams 11'00
Middle School Boys  Chase Berry 13'00
High School Girls  Josie Puelz  12'06
High School Boys  Christian Sanderfer
College Women  Natalie Willer 
College Men Christian Sanderfer   17'08
Open Women  Brittany Kallemberger 13'01
Open Men  Jeremy Scott   18'00
Masters Women  Jessica Reifer 10'00
Masters Men  Gene Brooks   16'02

Competition Results

2020  CANCELLED  - Covid-19 
2019  Results Downtown Seward 
2018  Results  Downtown Seward 
2017  Results Downtown Seward 
2016 Results Downtown Seward 
2015  Results Downtown Seward
2014  Results  Downtown Seward
2013  Results  Downtown Seward 
2012 Results Downtown Seward
2011 Results Downtown Seward
2010 Results Concordia Indoors (Rain)
2009 Results Downtown Seward
2008 * Downtown Seward
2007 Results Downtown Seward
2006 Results Downtown Seward
2005 * Downtown Seward
2004 * Downtown Seward
2003 Results 
Downtown Seward
2002 Results 
Concordia Campus
2001 * Downtown Seward
2000 * Downtown Seward
1999 * Downtown Seward
1998 * Downtown Seward
1997 - DNV
1996 - DNV
1995 - DNV
1994 * Concordia Stadium
1993 * Concordia Stadium
1992 * Concordia Stadium
Concordia Stadium
1990  Concordia Stadium 

*Adding results as they are found from past years.

Seward, Nebraska

To learn more about
Seward, Nebraska
“America’s Fourth of July City-Small Town USA!”
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