Wildcat pole vaulters stand along atop CCAA


Javier Hernandez

From left to right: Carissa Rodriguez, Lara Condosta, Rebecca Graham, John Brunk, Amy Bell, Elise Barnum, and Samantha Bracket.

The 2022 Chico State Women’s Track and Field season has earned multiple NCAA Provisional marks, but nothing has been more impressive than the dominance of the team’s pole vault student-athletes.

The top six female pole vaulters in the CCAA all wear the cardinal and white. There have also been four new members join the Top 10 female pole vaulters in Wildcat history.

Samantha Brackett

Wildcat Samantha Brackett leaping. Photo Courtesy of Michael Bates/Chico State Athletics.

The freshman from Boulder Creek pole vaulted 11-feet-.75-inches (3.37m) during the Wildcat Invitational on April 18-19. This propelled her to become the No. 6 female pole vaulter in the CCAA. 

Brackett said her freshman campaign is going well, but there is room for improvement as the season ends.

“It has been awesome to get to know the coaches and my teammates,” she said. “Getting to work with people who are as passionate as I am is incredible.”

Brackett said learning from the veteran pole vaulters has been a great experience.

“They are always there to support us and share knowledge,” she said. “They are really great people to look up to and learn from.” 

Elise Barnnum

Wildcat Elise Barnum getting ready for a jump. Photo Taken by Javier Hernandez

The freshman from Sparks, Nevada, leaped 11-feet-7-inches (3.53m) at the Sacramento State Invitational on April 9, which moved her into the No. 5 female pole vaulter in the CCAA. 

Barnum said the improvement has been steady, as she has seen consistency from her jumps.

“I have continued to improve my personal best jumps multiple times throughout the year, and am excited to close out strong in the CCAA Championships,” Barnum said. 

Barnum said being able to compete with the top six female pole vaulters in the CCAA has been unbelievable as they push each other.

“Being able to learn from each other and push each other to our best, has elevated our jumps,” she said.

Carissa Rodrigiuez 

Wildcat Carissa Rodriguez celebrating with coach John. Photo Courtesy of Michael Bates/Chico State Athletics.

The sophomore from Dixon, jumped 12-feet (3.66m) at the Chico Invitational on April 23-24. This jump put her in a tie for third place in the CCAA standings and a tie at 10th in Wildcat history. 

Rodriguez said being tied with Lara Condosta in the CCAA standings and in Wildcat History standings means so much to her.

“We both have been working hard together for our goals, and being tied with my roommate is an honor,” she said.

Rodriguez said having the top six CCAA female pole vaulters is a sign of the team’s hard work and camaraderie.

“We work our butts off during practice and meets,” Rodriguez said. “If you see us at a track meet, you see all of us cheering each other on.”

Lara Condosta

Wildcat Lara Condosta during her senior day. Photo Taken by Javier Hernandez

The senior from Auburn cleared 12-feet (3.66m) at the Chico Invitational on April 23-24. Like her teammate, she moved into a tie for third place in the CCAA standings and a tie at 10th in Wildcat history. 

Condosta said being able to bounce back from COVID has really shown how great this group has been.

“Being able to bounce back from COVID and having the top six CCAA pole vaulters is incredible,” she said. “It shows how determined we were to come back and compete.”

Condosta said having her teammates being ahead of her in the CCAA standings is an equal balance.

“This allows me to be really competitive against them, but also it makes me happy to see them succeed,” she said.

Rebecca Graham

Wildcat Rebecca Graham in action. Photo Taken by Javier Hernandez

The senior from Oroville leaped 12-feet-0.5-inches (3.67m) at the Mike Fanelli Track Classic hosted at San Francisco State. Graham made her way into the second-best pole vaulter in the CCAA and ninth in Wildcat history.

Graham said being able to make history during her senior year means the world to her.

“This is something I have been trying to do since I started here,” she said. “All the hard work has paid off, as I have worked my way up the top 10 list.”

Graham said as her time is coming to an end, she wants to end the year off the right way.

“I want to soak every moment in with my teammates,” Graham said. “I want to be a leader and have fun with them during the postseason.”

  • 2022 CCAA Pole Vault Champion

Amy Bell 

Wildcat Amy Bell clearing a jump. Photo Taken by Javier Hernandez

The senior from Moorpark elapsed the NCAA Provisional mark and broke the Chico State female pole vault record. Her 13-feet-1.5-inch jump at the Aggie Open in Davis on March 12 launched her into the No. 1 female CCAA pole vaulter and into the No. 1 female Wildcat pole vaulter.

Bell said her historic season has been amazing, thanks largely to the support of her teammates and coaches.

“I wouldn’t be anywhere without my teammates,” she said. “Coach John has been there for me on and off the track, I don’t know where I’d be without him.”

Bell said there is unfinished business as she heads into the CCAA and NCAA championships.

“I want to go big during the CCAA Championships, as this is my first and last one with Chico State,” she said. “For nationals, I did the hard part which was qualifying, now I am going to in with no expectations and just do what I have been doing.”

Chico State Women’s Track and Field Head Coach John Brunk said having all of his six pole vaulters on the top six list in the CCAA is a testament to their hard work and dedication.

“I am beyond proud of what they have accomplished so far,” Brunk said. “They come in everyday and compete with one another and are always willing to listen.”

Brunk said he wants them to achieve one more milestone during the CCAA Championships.

“There has never been a single school that took all the top six spots in the pole vault during the CCAA Championships and I want this group to make history,” he said. “We will come into the meet respecting the competition, but knowing what these girls are capable of, anything is possible.”

The CCAA Championships will be held at Cox Stadium at San Francisco State from May 5-7. The six coveted pole vaulters will be competing on May 6 at 2:30 p.m.

UPDATE: Rebecca Graham placed first, Lara Condosta placed second, Elise Barnum placed third, and Carissa Rodriguez and Samantha Brackett tied for fourth.

The women’s side will be looking to win their first CCAA title since the 2018 season. 

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Javier Hernandez can be reached at [email protected] or @jhm1226 on Twitter