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Friday, Aug. 22, 2014

Matt Campbell adds hardware to collection

Friday, March 31, 2006

Matt Campbell's trophy case is already pretty full.

The White River Valley graduate has picked up virtually every accolade for pole vaulting known to humanity during his time at Missouri Southern State University.

Now he's got to make room for another honor, as he became the NCAA Division II indoor national champion in pole vaulting at the Indoor Track & Field Championships in Boston on March 10 and 11.

"It feels pretty good," said Campbell. "I've just been working 11 years at this now, and it's starting to pay off towards the end."

Campbell, a senior, is no stranger to national championships.

He captured the outdoor pole vaulting national title last year in Abilene, Texas and set the MSSU outdoor record with a vault of 17-2 3/4.

And in 2003, while attending Neosho County (Kan.) Community College, he became the junior college outdoor national championship with a mark of 17-3/4, and was the national indoor runner-up with a mark of 16-10.

Campbell, 24, has been on top of every level at which he's competed, and he said the secret is pretty simple: Just keep cool.

"I think it just comes down to the experience I have," said Campbell. "I just know how to prepare myself for the meets and keep cool during the meets and not let it get to my head."

Of course, even though Campbell has reached the top of the mountain in NCAA-II athletics both at the indoor and outdoor level, it's worth mentioning that his climb began in Greene County.

The Worthington native attended White River Valley High School in Switz City where he was a three-time state pole vault champion from 1999 to 2001 and was the state runner-up in 1998 as a freshman.

He set the WRV and Indiana High School State Championships meet record when he cleared 16-9 in his senior year of 2001. At WRV he was a three-year All-American and a member of the U.S. Junior Track Team.

Although it looks as though Campbell's march to national prominence began on the track at White River Valley, Campbell said his real drive comes from his parents, Steve and Linda Campbell.

"They've been very supportive throughout the years," said Campbell. "If they can't make it to something, they'll try to come as often as they can.

"They've been to my high school meets, and some college. They try their hardest, considering Missouri State's pretty far away."

With his final year as a collegiate athlete drawing to a close, Campbell is now looking to the future.

Campbell is a criminal justice major, and the odds aren't good that he'll be doing a lot of pole vaulting at his next job.

"I'm actually going through the process right now of becoming a Kansas City Police Officer," said Campbell. "I doubt I'll keep jumping, though. I'll probably hang up the spikes after our last outdoor national championships."

So there's still one more major goal for Campbell to accomplish before he walks off of the track for the last time.

After all, just because he's accumulated more trophies over the last few years than most athletes can compile in a lifetime doesn't mean he doesn't want one more outdoor national title.

"Winning three national championships in a row is a very high goal of mine right now," said Campbell. "I won three straight high school championships, so it would be cool if I could do it at the college level, too."

The 2006 NCAA Division II Outdoor National Championships will take place May 25-27 in Emporia, Kan.