NCAA track championships
Where: Des Moines, Iowa
Men’s pole vault
Finals: 5:30 p.m. Friday
FORT WAYNE — Senior pole vaulters Kevin Schipper of Notre Dame and Hunter Hall of Virginia Tech will finish their college careers Friday at the NCAA outdoor championships at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.
The area track and field athletes will also be writing the last chapter in their friendly rivalry that started in high school.
Hall, a Homestead graduate, and Schipper, a Bishop Dwenger graduate, haven’t competed at the same events as much since they left for college, but they said they enjoy vaulting against each other as much now as they did then.
“It has always just been a really friendly competition,” Hall said. “Both of us have wanted the other one to do as well as they could. When we see each other, it is always a fun time. … We always just really enjoy getting to compete with each other.”
Hall outjumped Schipper for the IHSAA state finals title in 2006. Schipper went higher than Hall the next year at the state finals, taking second in the pole vault behind Northrop’s Corey Shank. Hall was third in 2007.
In the NCAA East Preliminary Round on May 26, Hall and Schipper tied for first in the vault with jumps of 17 feet, 5 1/2 inches.
“I really enjoyed getting to see him again,” Schipper said. “The competition was good on that day. It was just a really good day.”
The two vaulters have also had successful college careers.
Hall has won two ACC vaulting titles, this year in outdoor and 2010 in indoor, and earned All-American honors four times.
He finished 11th at the outdoor championships and sixth in the indoor last year, and he was 10th in the outdoor championships and tied for seventh in the indoor in 2009.
“It’s been a really fun experience for me here at Virginia Tech,” Hall said. “I couldn’t think of a better way to end my career than going to the NCAA championships with my teammate, Joe Davis, and both of us competing together in the NCAA finals.”
Schipper has won the indoor and outdoor Big East pole vault title in the each of the last three years. He set personal bests this season, clearing 17-10 1/2 in indoor and 17-8 1/2 outdoor.
Schipper finished eighth in the outdoor championships in 2010 to earn All-American honors.
“There is an emotional aspect to it, but I’m actually really excited,” Schipper said of going into his final college meet. “Finishing my college career is kind of sad, at the same time, I would like to finish it well.”
Hall and Schipper said they couldn’t guess what height they would need to hit to win the NCAA title.
“The unique situation at Des Moines is historically this is a meet where people haven’t jumped quite as high,” Hall said. “It’s been wild-card winners because the conditions are not always ideal.”
The two vaulters said they just want to perform their best and are happy they get to compete against each other one more time.
“The fact that we both made it is kind of odd. In my college career, it is probably the third or fourth meet we’ve had together,” Schipper said. “In high school, we were always really competitive, and we are competitive now. I think it is a really good thing that we are both having good years and jumping really well.
“It is Hunter’s last year as well. I’m sure he would like to go out with a bang too.”