The Roundup -

Start Of Dynasty

Sidney Girl Remembers Pole Vault Success

 

Melanie (Prevost) Morrill won the state championship in the pole vault during the 1997 season.

Nowadays, she reads the accounts in newspapers and attends local track meets to see Sidney's pole vaulting dynasty for herself. And Melanie (Prevost) Morrill smiles as she remembers when the program's legacy started. She was Sidney's female pole vault champion when she won the state title in 1997.

Recently, Aubrey Kessel earned the 2016 state championship for the event. Other Sidney girls with state pole vault titles include Leila Ben-Youssef, Ashley Taylor, Miranda Fehilly, MaKayla Fink, Vanessa Bawden, Mikayla Minnow and Jalyssa Gorder.

One could say that Sidney's road to the dynasty actually began in the summer of 1996. Morrill, who was approaching her junior year and already a standout in jumps and hurdles, was asked by pole vault coach Steve Yockim about trying the event. Her brother Levi was already a pole vaulter for Sidney's boys squad.

"I thought it was something I wanted to try," Morrill, who was never afraid of a challenge, said. "I knew it looked like fun. I knew it was something I could potentially be good at."

With her strength and agility (she was involved with gymnastics for three years), Morrill was a natural for the pole vault.

"I tried it that summer and Coach Yockim gave me the basics," Morrill said.

During a regional meet, Morrill and Ben-Youssef each qualified for the AAU Junior Olympics held in New Orleans that summer. Mandy Anderson in weight events and Andrea Huntley in sprints also represented Sidney for that competition.

Morrill said a pole vaulting camp in Helena that she, Ben-Youssef and Yockim attended also put Sidney's program on the right track.

"He was just beginning too when I started," Morrill said of Yockim. "You keep picking things up every year."

Less than a year later, Morrill won the Class A state championship held in Great Falls by clearing 10-6.

"It naturally came to me, except for the turning part," Morrill said. "It's funny how my daughter (Zoe) struggles with the same thing."

At the state level, Morrill also won a state championship in the pole vault and 400-meter relay and placed in both hurdles events.

"They are all hard. It was a lot of time to put in each event to be decent," Morrill said. "They all have different aspects that you need to have as far as technique."

Her daughters, Zoe and Brooke, each are coming off middle school track seasons. "I try to help out as much as I can if they listen. But I try to leave it up to their coaches."

Morrill is grateful for the coach that she had, and she is very impressed with Yockim's coaching accomplishments.

"I think he has taken something, starting with basically nothing and made it something that people across the state wish they had," Morrill said. "It's just because he loves it. It's been fun to watch Sidney being the powerhouse year after year."

After high school, Morrill placed second at the NAIA indoor nationals by clearing 11-3 as a freshman.

The mother of four still tries to pole vault once a year when Yockim has an "open gym" type practice for pole vaulters. "I go to see if I can still do it," she laughed.

The 1998 Sidney High School graduate stays fit as a health coach for Take Shape For Life.

"A lot of it was for 'me time' after the fourth baby came," Morrill said. "I like to run. It's funny because I hated running in track."

It's not out of the question that she will compete at the Big Sky State Games some summer. "It's just a matter of timing," she said of her schedule. "It would be so much fun to do something like that again. But I think it would be pretty painful the next day."

In the meantime, she will continue rooting for Sidney's vaulters to continue their domination at the state level.

"It's kind of amazing to me how many Sidney vaulters place first," Morrill said. "A lot of times they are the majority on the podium."

 

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