Pole vaulter Birkmeier sets state record—again


Sarah Birkmeier is the first girl from Michigan to jump 13 feet. Coach Kevin Patterson originally thought it wouldn’t happen until next year.
Sarah Birkmeier is the first girl from Michigan to jump 13 feet. Coach Kevin Patterson originally thought it wouldn’t happen until next year.

Rockford High School junior Sarah Birkmeier has done it again. Competing in the MHSAA Division I state track and field meet at East Kentwood High School on May 30, Birkmeier jumped an incredible 13 feet even to capture her second straight state championship. Her record jump beat the previous Division I state meet record by 10 inches, and set an overall state of Michigan record.

“My goal was to be the first girl to jump 13 feet from the state of Michigan” said Birkmeier.

Senior Danielle Putterman also earned All State accolades, taking seventh with a personal best of 11 feet 2 inches.

Coming off an incredible indoor season where Birkmeier won the indoor state championship and set a state of Michigan record of 12′ 8″, much was expected of the outdoor season. An early season foot injury, combined with our poor spring weather, hampered performances during the outdoor season.

“We didn’t jump in five or six meets this outdoor season due to weather,” pole vault Coach Kevin Patterson said. “The past two weeks have been structured practice and rest. She’s as fast as ever right now, and that helps. Sarah set a goal of jumping 13′. We originally thought that goal might happen by the time she graduated next year. We are a little ahead of schedule, which is great.”

Birkmeier’s second title adds to the list of pole vault state champions for Rockford High School. The title is the fifth in the last eight years, joining previous winners Bethany Hecksel (2002), Stacy Orosz (2004), and Christi Kettlehut (2005), all of whom went on to college to jump.

“We’ve been blessed with great kids, awesome parents, phenomenal support from the athletic department and boosters, and facilities second to none. This is our key to success,” Patterson said.

Currently ranked seventh in the nation, Birkmeier will be attending the Nike Outdoor Nationals in North Carolina later this month. Her 13-foot jump also qualifies for the prestigious USATF Junior Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Oregon.

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