OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – A 15-year-old freshman pillars from Kansas is enjoying his celebrity status thanks to his amazing 360 degree turn in a match.
Connor Bell, one of seven pole vaulters from Shawnee Mission North, said he has jumped as high as 10 feet, 6 inches. The 9-foot vault last Wednesday in the Regional Sunflower League Junior Regional Varsity in Olathe was not his best. One wrong step made him stay at the pole.
But quick thinking and muscular strength allowed him to make a crazy 360 degree turn. The Bell family's video clips show it spinning around as it hangs from that stick in the air.
"I was thinking, 'I'm tall, I need to get down,'" Bell laughed. "I was a little bit stuck in there, I grabbed and turned around, I realized I was on the top, I jumped and threw it back."
When Bell fell, his grandfather, Eric Smith, had his cell phone recorded.
School leaders told the WDAF clips that, from the moment they turned around, they have been requested by Sports Illustrated and Bleacher Report.
"Seeing how it exploded, it's definitely something else, it's not what I expected," Bell told WDAF.
Indian track coaches, including head coach Aaron Davidson, said more was needed than athletics.
Davidson said the team's jumpers are told never to give up the pole or their self-confidence. Bell and Davidson said they got that from Bernadette Wagner, from North, who is respected as a pole vault guru with 40 years of experience.
"I've seen some crazy things in the pole vault," Davidson said, "but none of that."
"The only thing I say to the athletes is that they never talk about a good day or a good performance, I think that can translate into pole vaulting, never give up at the bar, I think that's what it was" .
Bell said being part of the Shawnee Mission North community means the world to him. He has already been elected president of the second year class for next year.
Bell said he hopes to one day compete at the university level. He said he could have a thousand more attempts and that the turn could never happen again.