Phillips soars over 18-year-old record

Written by Muleskinner Staff

By JACOB WOERTHER
Sports Editor

(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) — During the Mules Relay Saturday, Feb. 4, senior pole vaulter Cole Phillips set a Multipurpose Building record, jumping 17-1.

Phillips said there were several records the team set out to beat at the beginning of the season, the Multipurpose Building being one of them.

The record-setting jump was enough for an automatic qualifier for the national championships, but Phillips already qualified for the event earlier in the season. During the UCM Invitational; Phillips cleared 17-3/4 to punch his ticket to the national championship.

Phillips said qualifying early allows him to better prepare for the national championships.

“It sets it up to where you can focus on training, rather than trying to set up to jump big at every single meet,” Phillips said.

This year will mark Phillips’ third trip to the indoor NCAA championships. In 2015, he placed fifth with a mark of 16-6 3/4 and improved to second place in 2016, clearing 17-1. Phillips’ previous jumps earned him a pair of NCAA All-American Awards.

Phillips said he feels more confident than ever about this year’s national championship. He said he had some of his best training this past fall due to the lack of injuries.

“This has probably been the best year for me, injury wise,” he said. “I’ve been very fortunate to train all fall without any setback.”

In the past, Phillips has struggled with a broken back and a broken wrist during his training, but the absence of injury and early qualification could make for an ideal few weeks of preparation.

As Phillips prepares to once again excel at the NCAA Championships, he said his journey wouldn’t have been possible without the help of head coach Kip Janvrin and assistance coach Kurtis Brondyke.

“Both have been with me since I got here freshman year and have just helped me out a ton,” Phillips said. “They’re the reason for 90 percent of (my successes).”

While Phillips is expecting tough competition in the MIAA and NCAA Indoor Championships, he said there are other jumpers on the team who are prepared to make an impact.

“We’ve got a couple kids jumping really well this year, quite a bit better than the past few years,” he said. “So it’s going to be tough…but I think it’s possible.”

The teammates Phillips spoke of include freshman Jan Jansky and senior Brittany Kallenberger. In his first meet as a Mule, Jansky provisionally qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships, jumping 15-11.25. Kallenberger provisionally qualified Jan. 28, after jumping 12-10 3/4 at the Pittsburg State Invitational.

Phillips, Jansky, Kallenberger and the rest of the track and field team will return to action Feb. 17 at the UCM Classic. Mens pole vaulting will begin at 3 p.m., followed by women’s at 4:30 p.m. Phillips will compete in his final NCAA Indoor Championship March 3, in Birmingham, Alabama.