2010 Kansas Relays to Feature Vaulting for Dollars Event

April 15, 2010


This year at the Kansas Relays, athletes in the Invitational women’s pole vault event will have more to gain than a just the title of Relays champion. The six elite athletes entered in the event have an opportunity to make a profit on Saturday, as they will be “vaulting for dollars.”

Each bar the athletes clear will be worth a set dollar amount. The opening height of 13-5 feet will be worth $250, while each subsequent bar will have $100 value attached. After the athletes have completed their attempts at the first height, the bar will be raised five inches and those who are remaining will continue to vault. This process will continue until one vaulter remains. The athletes will not be able to pass any height, so as to ensure constant action and exciting competition in the Invitational event.

The field for the “vaulting for dollars” competition includes two former Olympians and a two-time NCAA Indoor pole vault champion.

April Steiner-Bennett will make her fourth appearance at the Kansas Relays, after having won the event in 2005 and 2006, and finishing as the runner up last year. Steiner-Bennett was a member of U.S. Olympic team at the 2008 Games in Beijing, China, where she finished eighth in the 12-person final with a mark of 4.55m (14-11 ft.). Her personal record in the event stands at 4.63m (15-02.25 ft.). In addition to her Olympic status, Steiner-Bennett was a silver-medalist in the pole vault at the 2007 Pan American Games.

Jillian Schwartz, another Kansas Relays regular, is among the 2010 field for the Invitational pole vault. Schwartz has competed at four outdoor and three indoor World Championships, and earned a spot on the 2004 U.S. Olympic team for the Games in Athens, Greece. Schwartz’s PR in the event stands at 4.61m (15-01.50 ft.).

Making her first appearance at the Relays will be Ellie Van Swearingen, formerly Ellie Rudy, who won back-to-back NCAA indoor pole vault titles in 2007 and 2008 competing for Montana State University. Van Swearingen’s career-best vault came in 2007 when she cleared 4.33m (14-02.50 ft.), which was an Olympic trials qualifying mark.

The “vaulting for dollars” event will kick off at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 17. Admission into the meet will be granted to those wearing a 2010 Kansas Relays button. The buttons are $10 for adults and $5 for students, youth and seniors and are valid for all four days of the event. Children under five are admitted for free, as are KU students with a valid KU ID. There is also a Kansas Relays family plan which includes two adult and two student/youth buttons for $20.

This year, Kansas Relays is partnering with Lawrence Memorial Hospital and the KU Cancer Research Center to promote breast cancer awareness. The Kansas track and field team will be wearing special singlets during the event to show their support, while fans and spectators who donate to the “Jayhawks for a Cure” campaign will receive a commemorative button.