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One more chance to soar

Justin Overby entered the 2007 North Dakota Class B state track meet with a season-best vault of 12 feet, 6 inches, a height that had him sharing the state's best performance with four other vaulters.

Justin Overby entered the 2007 North Dakota Class B state track meet with a season-best vault of 12 feet, 6 inches, a height that had him sharing the state's best performance with four other vaulters.

The state title was won by Lisbon's Patrick Daugherty with a 12-3 vault. Overby wound up placing fifth, clearing the bar at 12 feet.

"I was kind of mad," Overby said of the 2007 state meet. "I could have, should have, done better.

"I've never had a good vault at state. I've never done as well as I thought I should do. To come up short -- I feel like I haven't done my best there."

That is what has become the frustration of the state meet for the Langdon-Munich senior.

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Overby has been a state meet regular. He'll be making his fourth consecutive appearance in the vault competition at the Class B state meet, which will be held Friday and Saturday in Bismarck.

Overby won his fourth consecutive Region 3 vault championship last Saturday in Devils Lake. Perhaps that success is what has frustrated him at state, where he was a top-eight placer for the first time last year.

"It bothers Justin," Langdon-Munich coach Denny Dinius said of Overby's state meet experiences. "When you win the region, logically you expect to be one of the top eight guys at state. You feel like you're one of the best in the state."

But Dinius, who has coached four state vault champions with the Cardinals, knows there is no such thing as a sure thing in the event.

"It's a very unpredictable event," Dinius said. "Pole vaulting is a very technical event. There are so many things that can go wrong. A windy day can really affect the kids. They're changing poles at the end of the year as they get stronger and quicker; how they adapt can make a big difference."

Overby has experienced the difficulties of vaulting just days apart. Last week, for instance, he cleared 12-6 on Tuesday; two days later, he couldn't clear the bar at 11 feet. He's seen it happen with others; at the state meet last year, a vaulter who consistently had cleared 12 feet couldn't successfully vault the opening height of 11 feet.

"There are good days and bad days. I think everybody goes through them," Overby said. "You never know what will happen. Everything happens so fast when you vault. It's such a rush when you do clear.

"I have to forget about the past, to not think about it, and just go out and do my best."

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Dinius sees Overby as being a contender for the state title. The senior has consistently cleared 12 feet this season. He's working with a new pole and consistently has reached 12-6 in practices the last few weeks.

But Dinius sees it as a wide-open field. The top seed is Killdeer's Michael Wagner, who has hit the 13-foot mark. There are a number of legitimate contenders, as 11 vaulters have cleared 12 feet this season, including Larimore's Brett Johnson (12-3) and Langdon-Munich's Jordan Fisk (12-0).

Langdon-Munich has had a tradition-rich boys vaulting program. Dinius said several past vaulters have reach 13 feet and two were 14-foot vaulters. But the Cardinals have had only one four-time region champion in the event.

"We've had years where we had several good kids taking turns beating each other," Dinius said. "But Justin is probably the most dominant vaulter we've had over a four-year period."

Top area contenders

The vault figures to be one of the top events for area qualifiers at the Class B boys state meet. Other top area qualifiers include:

- Tyler Staskivige, Hatton-Northwood: The senior covers the jumping events. He is the top-ranked triple jumper in the state, having gone 44 feet, 10½ inches. Staskivige also is seeded second in the long jump and tied for third in the high jump.

- Troy Dale, Mayville-Portland-Clifford-Galesburg: The Patriots senior is seeded second in the shot put with a best of 53-3. He was runner-up in the shot last season.

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- Devin Monson, Thompson: The senior's top seed is in the 1,600 where he is ranked fourth. Monson is a proven performer at this level, as he was runner-up in the 3,200 and third in the 1,600 at state last season.

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