Ranking the Records Countdown - #8

Boys #8
STEVE STUBBLEFIELD, KC Wyandotte, Pole Vault 17'6" (1980)
IAAF Score: 1,083 points

In an era when Kansas was spitting out world-class vaulters nearly every year, Steve Stubblefield climbed the highest of the bunch in 1980. Vaulting requires a complex set of athletic skills and Stubblefield had them to spare, including some not even required for the pole vault.

An incredible all-around athlete, Stubblefield also ran cross country and swam in high school. At that time, high school cross country was two miles in Kansas and Stubblefield boasted a 10:00-flat two-mile XC PR, putting him also among the best cross country runners in the state. As a college freshman, he tried his hand at the high jump and almost immediately cleared 6'8".

Stubblefield continued his career at Arkansas State and would eventually reach 18'8" and become one of the best vaulters in the world at the time. However, some of his stiffest competition on the planet was other future world-class vaulters right in the backyard with him - literally.

In the same year Stubblefield jumped his state record, Shawnee Mission North's Doug Lytle cleared 16'9". Lytle would go on to Kansas State and make the 1984 U.S. Olympic team, finishing 6th in the Los Angeles Olympics. Two years prior, the state record that Stubblefield broke was set by Gardner-Edgerton's Jeff Buckingham at 17'0.75". Vaulting for the University of Kansas, Buckingham would set the American Record of 18'10.75" in 1983. Buckingham's younger brother George would jump 16'3" in 1979. Stubblefield, Lytle, and Jeff Buckingham would all world-rank in the top-25 at some point during their careers.

All were part of the legendary Lakeside Vaulters. Buckinghams lived on Gardner Lake and installed a vault box on their dock. Stubblefield, Lytle, the Buckingham brothers, and others would spend afternoons hanging out in the backyard and vaulting into the lake, a collection of some of the best vaulters in the world in a Kansas town of about 3,000 at the time.

Given the group that Stubblefield bested in high school, it should come as no surprise that no Kansas vaulter has come within five inches, and then only once, in the 40 years since it was set.