HIGHLANDVILLE, Mo. -- A handful of the most athletic kids our area has to offer is heading to Reno, Nevada, for a national pole vaulting competition this weekend.
They train inside a metal building in Highlandville; Missouri's largest indoor vaulting facility. These pole vaulters are learning, practicing and fine tuning their skills at Vault House Central, a non-profit focusing on taking these kids to the next level.
"It gives us an advantage over other vaulters," Joseph Nickell, 13 of Nixa said.
"You get better with every jump," Nixa junior Ryan Berg said.
Ryan's using the winter to get ready for Nixa High's spring Track and Field season. Like teammates, Nixa senior twins Megan and Stacie Wickersham. Megan finished 3rd at the state finals last spring. All three of these athletes are hoping for scholarships to college so they can continue what they love.
Along with the high schoolers, this AAU team has a pair of National Junior Olympic champions in Joseph Nickell and Elaina Roeder both of whom - are 13.
Roeder, a 7th grader at St. Agnes in Springfield, had a winning vault of 9'6".
For Joseph, he set the national record at the Junior Olympics with a vault of 11'7".
Each credits the hard work of their coaches, Sean Nickell and Jerry Cousins, and the unique facility for giving them the best possible chance of winning.
Vault House Central is open to the public who'd like to take lessons and they're always looking for athletic kids who would like to give the sport a try.