Athletics News – News – Legacy of Big Red Barn Pole Vault Competitions Will Have Significant Impact at CIF State Championships - News - Legacy of Big Red Barn Pole Vault Competitions Will Have Significant Impact at CIF State Championships

Several top athletes in California girls pole vault final, most notably Downing and Fears, gained valuable insight and experience on and off the runway at facility in Menifee, where Bouma family hosted several competitions to keep event thriving during COVID-19 pandemic

By Landon Negri for DyeStat

At a time when the country was essentially shut down, a pole vault facility rose like a Phoenix of sorts on the west side of a suburban Southern California town.

For more than a year, the Big Red Barn facility in Menifee carried the pole vault community.

And if you needed any more proof, consider the girls pole vault final at the 103rd CIF State Track and Field Championships at Buchanan High’s Veterans Memorial Stadium in Clovis, where much of the field competed at Big Red Barn meets at some point in the past three years.

“We got to see a lot of vaulters,” said Vista Murrieta junior Aspen Fears, the two-time CIF-Southern Section Masters girls pole vault champion.

“I remember just watching girls like Kortney Oates, Paige Sommers and Leah Pasqualetti, and my mouth would be wide open because of how cool it was.”

The latest payoff comes this week. Included in the field at Veterans Memorial Stadium will be Fears, as well as the top girls vaulter from the San Diego Section, La Costa Canyon junior Iliana Downing.

Both athletes were just eighth-graders in the spring of 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic halted high school sports in March, just after many teams competed in their first meets of the season. What proved to be the final high school sporting events in the state, in fact, were the regional finals of the basketball playoffs.

As sports sat idle and while debate raged over what should and shouldn’t be done with athletic events around the world, Vaulter Magazine founder and Vaulter Club head coach Doug Bouma found land to build a small facility with a regulation pit.

Scott Fears, Aspen’s father, ran a business on the property, which, of course, featured a big red barn as its centerpiece.

They scurried to build the facility in just six weeks and began offering it up for practices.

Later, meets were held there, the most notable June 26 of that year, when Leah Pasqualetti of Orchard Park, N.Y., set a new all-time prep outdoor record – as well as the American Under-20 outdoor standard – by clearing 14 feet, 8.25 inches (4.48m) at the Vaulter Club Vaulter Magazine Stars and Stripes Big Red Barn meet.

There was opposition to the Red Barn facility…

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