Newest pole vaulter shatters school record  

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For someone afraid of heights jumping almost 15 feet off the ground is terrifying, but for a pole vaulter, it’s exhilarating.  

Non-traditional freshman Mark Govero smashed the Webster University pole vaulting record after being on the team for only a few short months. 

Govero graduated from Festus High School in 2016, and held the second-highest record height for pole vaulting there. He went on to do one semester at Jefferson College but had to take a few gap years to save money for school. 

During this time, he paused his pole vaulting career. In 2022, he returned to school and got his associate’s degree at Jefferson College.

But he missed his sport.

He reached out to his old coaches from middle school, and attended their summer camp, thus reigniting his flame for pole vaulting. Last summer Govero competed at the Show Me Games for track and field. There, he met coach Nick Homan. They talked at the meet about track and parted ways until the spring semester. 

Nick Homan, the head track and field coach at Webster University, coaches the pole vaulters. Homan himself competed as a pole vaulter at an extremely high level for many years.  

“I got an email from him, the second week of February, and he’s like, hey, I’m here. I’m on campus. When do I start track?” Homan said. 

Mark Govero pole vaulting on April 6 at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Photo by Vanessa Jones

Govero started practicing and competed during the indoor season for the first time on Feb. 17. He broke the school record at the next meet at the SLIAC Indoor Track and Field Championship with a height of 4.14 meters. 

Since then, he has continued to set and break his own record. His current personal best and school record is 4.50 meters, roughly, 14 feet and 9 inches.  

“It’s not so much about just breaking records as it is competing with myself and trying to just get better for me,” Govero said. 

Each track event has a different workout regime and practice routine; for pole vaulters, it’s going to a track and jumping for almost two hours two days a week, and completing sprint workouts three days a week. Alongside practice, the pole vaulters lift in weight rooms three days a week.  

“Most of the time, it’s me having to stop him from doing too much,” Homan said. “That’s one of the things with the pole vaulters because it’s so much fun, but typically, with people who are successful, I don’t want them to do much just because they’re having fun. So it’s been a lot of reeling him in and just just making sure he doesn’t overdo it.”

Transitioning to a new team halfway through the year can be a difficult transition, but for Govero, the team made it a smooth one. 

“I didn’t feel like an outsider or anything, everybody’s just super-inclusive,” Govero said. “Everyone was cracking jokes with me on the first day. It just really did not feel like an awkward transition at all to become a part of this team.”

His teammates helped Govero learn their daily warm-ups and exercises. 

“Our team is already pretty diverse, we have a lot of different personalities,” Homan said. “He’s pretty quickly fit right in. He’s kind of a goofy guy, trying to make people laugh. I don’t know of anybody that’s had anything but good things to say about him.”

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Gabrielle Lindemann
Staff Writer | + posts