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Tom Mix, Published May 07 2012

Sky's the limit for Lisbon vaulter

Lisbon, N.D.

Entering the high school track and field season, Lisbon’s Jace Berg had a goal of reaching 13 feet, 6 inches in the pole vault.

It did not take Berg long to reach that mark, and now the junior vaulter has visions of hitting 14 feet.

Berg posted a personal-best 13-6 vault at the TK Relays track and field meet on April 26 at Concordia. The 13-6 mark is the best state-qualifying vault in North Dakota Class B and is tied for the third best overall mark in the state.

“Everything was going good,” Berg said of his vaults. “I got 13 feet that day too, which originally was my personal record and then I brought it up to 13-6. I made it on my third attempt. That was a nice moment.”

Berg, who is a three-sport standout for the Broncos, began the season with a hamstring injury held over from his wrestling season that ended with Berg winning the

120-pound state championship after a 35-8 season.

He qualified for the state meet – set for May 25-26 at the Community Bowl in Bismarck – with a 12-foot vault on April 3 and has steadily improved since.

“I started out kind of slow, but the last couple weeks it has really picked up a lot and I’m feeling pretty good out there,” said Berg, who finished fourth in the pole vault at state last year clearing 12-6.

Berg also is a member of the Broncos’ 400-meter relay team that has posted the second fastest state-qualifying time at 45.44 seconds.

But it is the pole vault where Berg really gets down to business.

“He’s been fantastic,” said Lisbon track and field head coach Mark Moss. “The thing that sets Jace apart from a lot of the pole vaulters is he’ll pole vault from the beginning of practice until the end. His work ethic is second to none.”

It also doesn’t hurt having a two-time state champion and pole vaulting state record holder as a coach. Former Lisbon pole vaulter Scott Carlblom, who holds the Class B state pole vaulting record at 14-7 and won state vaulting titles in 2000 and 2001, has served as Berg’s coach and mentor along with Pat Rostock, another former Lisbon pole vaulter.

“He’s definitely helped me out a lot,” Berg said of Carlblom. “(Scott) and Pat have been a big help. They are always just telling me to stay calm and giving me positive influences out there.”

Berg has responded to the coaching and has been a threat to set a personal best at every meet this spring.

“We’ve got him almost a foot high from where he was last year, which is a big difference,” Carlblom said. “I’m pretty excited of what he has been able to do so far.”

Since hitting the 13-6 mark, Carlblom said Berg’s approach has been treating every meet as if it were state in hopes of getting in a good routine.

“I’m glad I got that high mark just so I know what I’m capable of,” Berg said. “I just have to keep striving to peak at state, because that is where it counts.”

Nobody knows that better than Berg, who said his finishes in wrestling (3rd at 112 pounds) and the pole vault at state as a sophomore motivated him to come back this season and strive for titles in each sport.

As far as Berg is concerned it is one down, one to go.

The Class B pole vaulting field is full of returning place winners including defending state champion sophomore Harrison Aide of Bottineau and senior Monty Johnson of Southern McLean, who placed second.

Carlblom said 13-6 will likely win the state championship this year and believes Berg will reach 14-0 at some point this season – it is just a matter of when that happens that will be the key.

“(Aide) is going to be a tough kid to beat, but I like Jace’s chances,” Moss said. “He knows it is not going to be easy. He is definitely not going to be satisfied with anything other than first place.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562