ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Big Ten meet called off

Coaches and athletes offer moment of silence for Penn State pole vaulter

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- Teary-eyed Penn State athletes led a lap around the track, and a moment of silence replaced competition at the Big Ten men's track and field indoor championships Sunday.

A day after a Penn State pole vaulter Kevin Dare died in competition, the championships were called off. The decision was made after a meeting of Big Ten coaches, conference athletic commissioner Jim Delaney said. The meet, which began Saturday, won't be rescheduled.

Coaches, athletes and fans gathered around the track Sunday afternoon to honor Dare, a 19-year-old sophomore, who fell during a pole vault attempt Saturday and hit his head. He was treated by emergency medical technicians at the University of Minnesota Field House and then was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center.

ADVERTISEMENT

He never regained consciousness, and was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the hospital.

Some Penn State athletes stopped during their lap around the track and knelt at the pit where Dare had fallen, while others threw flowers on the spot where he landed.

The women's championships at Penn State also held at moment of silence Sunday.

"Today, life is not as good as it was yesterday," Penn State coach Harry Groves said to the crowd gathered for the ceremony. "The best way we can pay tribute to Kevin is to get back to doing what we do, which is track and field. I think he would like that."

After the Penn State athletes huddled in the center of the field and yelled a cheer for Dare, the team's poles were carried out of the building.

Dare won the pole vault in the U.S. junior championships in June, clearing 16 feet, 6 3/4 inches.

Minnesota heptathlon competitor Jesse Madsen, who was scheduled to vault Sunday, said vaulters have little room for fear when they take off down the runway.

"You can't think about it, if you start running down the runway and think 'I'm going to get hurt, you'll just stop, or run through, or not even go up," a red-eyed Madsen said. "You cannot even think about it. That's the last thing you're thinking about."

ADVERTISEMENT

But after Saturday's tragedy, it was all he could think about.

"Before they canceled it, we were going to have to go through with it. Last night I was trying to convince myself that I was going to be able to," he said. "I was actually happy they canceled the heptathlon for sure, because there's no way I'd be able to go up today after seeing that yesterday. Halfway down the runway I know I'd be choking on my tongue or something."

Dare's parents were at the meet Saturday. His older brother, Eric, throws the javelin for Penn State during the outdoor season and is a defensive back for the football team.

Groves said two of his assistants spent the evening with Dare's family.

"Their indication off the bat was the one that you would expect: 'Please go on with the meet,"' Groves said. "But we felt they couldn't have said anything else. At the time, it was a normal reaction. But I agree wholeheartedly with the Big Ten's decision."

The two-day meet was to resume Sunday morning.

After the coaches met for about an hour, the decision was made to cancel all events.

Witnesses said Dare tumbled backward, headfirst, onto the metal "box" -- the area 8 inches deep that is used to plant the pole. He was attempting a vault of 15-7.

ADVERTISEMENT

"He just came down the runway like he did hundreds of other times," Groves said. "I do think he thought he was over the pit and didn't prepare to land."

What To Read Next
Fundraising is underway to move the giant ball of twine from the Highland, Wisconsin, home of creator James Frank Kotera, who died last month at age 75, 44 years after starting the big ball.
Caitlin and Jason Keck’s two-year term on the American Farm Bureau Federation committee begins next month.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission met on Jan. 5, 2023, to consider the application for Summit Carbon Solutions.
Qualified Minnesota farmers will receive dollar-for-dollar matching money to purchase farmland.