Sports Briefs

Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2002

Penn State pole vaulter killed in fall

MINNEAPOLIS -- Penn State pole vaulter Kevin Dare died Saturday after landing on his head during the Big Ten indoor championships.

After being treated by emergency medical technicians at the University of Minnesota Fieldhouse, Dare was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center. He never regained consciousness, and was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the hospital.

Witnesses said the 19-year-old vaulter tumbled backward, headfirst, onto the metal ''box'' -- the area 8 inches deep that is used to plant the pole. He was attempting a vault of 15 feet, 7 inches, well below his personal best.

''He swung upside down and sort of stalled with his jump,'' Minnesota assistant coach Mario Sategna said. ''It looked like he became disoriented and didn't know where he was. I believe he thought he had cleared the bar and was on the other side of it.''

Dr. Elizabeth Arendt, University of Minnesota Medical Director, said, ''We did everything we could to sustain his life, but there was nothing we could do. The head injury proved to be fatal.''

Dare's mother, Terri, and father, Ed, were at the meet. His older brother, Eric, throws the javelin for Penn State during the outdoor season and is a defensive back for the football team.

Dare was a sophomore from State College, Pa., with several years experience in the often dangerous sport. Another vaulter was killed in a similar accident in the 1993 Sioux City, Iowa, relays.

''It's always in the back of your mind that you can get hurt pole vaulting,'' said Michigan State's Paul Terek, the No. 6 vaulter in the nation. ''But you bury it deep in the back of your mind, even though 100 out of 100 pole vaulters have had some kind of accident in their careers. You just bury it, but it's been unearthed now, though.''

Penn State athletic director Tim Curley said, ''Our thoughts and prayers are with Kevin's family and friends.''

''This is a very sad and difficult day for the Penn State and State College communities. Kevin was an outstanding, personable young man. He had many friends in State College and on campus.''

Dare won the pole vault in the U.S. junior championships in June, clearing 16-6 3/4.

That victory gave him an opportunity to compete in a United States-Britain meet, where he also was victorious. Dare also competed for the United States at the Pan American Junior Championships in Argentina last fall.

Last season, he placed fifth in the pole vault at the ICAAAA Championships, helping seal the team championship for Penn State.

As a member of the State College Area High School team, Dare won the 2000 PIAA state championship in the pole vault.

University of Minnesota spokesman Jeff Kaiser said late Saturday night that the pole vault competition would be canceled on Sunday out of respect for Dare. All other events will continue as scheduled.

''The majority of the coaches, Penn State included, felt it was better to go on with the meet,'' Minnesota coach Phil Lundin said. ''We felt if we didn't it would leave a hollow feeling.''

The athletes will walk a lap in honor of Dare during a ceremony at noon Sunday, and Penn State coach Harry Groves is expected to make a statement.

Many of Dare's teammates knelt in prayer or wept when they learned of his death.

''He died. I can't believe he died,'' said junior Ryan Blood, breaking down in tears. ''I just can't believe it.''

''Everything is crazy right now,'' junior Greg Miller said. ''He was such a good guy. A team leader. I ... can't talk anymore.''

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