In just a handful of years, the Dauphin Street Vault has become one of the most highly anticipated events in Downtown Mobile each summer. Equal parts athletic event and block party, organizers continue to find ways to turn up the volume.
Some of the world’s best athletes will be on display this Saturday, Juy 16. The sixth annual event gets started at 10 a.m. and will continue through the night. Several hundred vaulters are expected to participate in the USA Track and Field-sanctioned competition, with some flying above the wrought-iron balconies between Jackson and Joachim streets.
“The DSV has always been a way of giving back to our community and helping raise awareness for the sport of track and field,” said Drew Bentley, the event’s director and head track and field coach at McGill-Toolen Catholic High School.
“DSV 2016 will be a great way for Mobile to get into the spirit of the Olympics as you watch incredible athletes soar high above the balconies and traffic lights of lower Dauphin. With the intensity of the crowd on the street, there’s really no better way to watch pole vaulting,” Bentley added.
One person signed up for the DSV who has already secured a berth at the Rio Olympics in August is Pauls Pujats. A former University of Memphis star, he will represent Latvia. Pujats has a career best vault of 18 feet, 8 inches.
Also expected back in Mobile is Morgann Leleux. After winning three SEC titles at the University of Georgia, she completed her final outdoor season of eligibility at Louisiana-Lafayette by winning the Sun Belt meet. Leleux finished second at the NCAA Outdoor championships. She is the current DSV record holder at 15 feet, while Devin King holds that honor for the men at 18 feet.
A local favorite is Margaret Ollinger, the Class 7A state champion from McGill-Toolen. Having signed a scholarship to Vanderbilt, Ollinger has the third-best pole vault in the nation at 13 feet, 8 inches.
The Open Division will have warm-ups at 9 a.m., with the action going from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Warmups for the Elite Division are set for 6 p.m., with the competition starting at 7 p.m.
Much like last year, event organizers have planned something special.
“We’re also adding a race this year,” event organizer Thomas Fowlkes said. “It is a 0.0-mile race. Yes, zero miles. It is in support of the Fuse Project. It will be treated just like a real race. It starts at 6:45 p.m., right before the Elite vault. It should be hilarious.”
According to the www.DauphinStreetVault.com website, those interested “have no excuse for not participating. You don’t have to do anything except register and have fun. Plus, you get an awesome free T-shirt.” The race will start and end with a block party, with a $10 registration fee.
The Fuse Project supports efforts that benefit children in Mobile and Baldwin counties. It recently sponsored the third annual Dragon Boat Festival, which raised approximately $215,000 for projects that promote health, fitness, education and social responsibility for children.
The awards ceremony for the Elite Division is scheduled for 10 p.m. For additional information, visit the website, call 205-533-4594 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
MSA staying busy
The Mobile Sports Authority has played a big role in supporting the Dauphin Street Vault. The group’s mission is to create positive economic results for the area by attracting sporting events.
Also on tap this week is the Cal Ripken 8-year-old Southwest Regional baseball tournament. Games are being played now through July 19 at the Westside Athletic Association’s facility located off Schillinger Road in Mobile. Opening ceremonies were Wednesday at Hank Aaron Stadium prior to the BayBears’ game.
Cal Ripken Baseball is a division of Babe Ruth League. There will be 28 teams coming from Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. All clubs will play three pool-play games, with the top two seeds advancing to a single-elimination championship series. For more information visit www.brlswregion.com.
● As mentioned in a previous column, seven swimmers from Mobile competed in the U.S. Olympic trials. Will Glass found the most success in the 100-meter butterfly. His time of 52.25 seconds was good for seventh place, and was 1.25 seconds behind winner Michael Phelps. Glass, who attended St. Paul’s and McGill-Toolen, now swims for the University of Texas.
● Jan-Louw Kotze, a University of South Alabama senior, was named to the first-team Capital One Academic All-America men’s track and field/cross country team. The South Africa native was a third-team pick last year. He concluded his career not only as USA’s record holder in the discus, but also ranked second in the shot put and third in the hammer throw. He had a 4.0 GPA while majoring in exercise science and psychology.
● Joanna McCoy, another USA senior, made the third-team Capital One Academic All-America women’s track and field/cross country team. She was a first-team All-Sun Belt Conference pick after helping the Lady Jags with the cross country title in November and then was the team’s top point scorer when USA won its first-ever conference outdoor championship. She holds numerous school records, having competed in distances from 1,500 meters to 10,000 meters. A nursing major, McCoy has a 4.0 GPA.
● Alex Jones, a Spring Hill College graduate, has signed with the Florida Marlins’ organization. He is with the Class A Batavia Muckdogs in the New York-Pennsylvania League. The Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference’s Player of the Year, Jones had a school-record 66 runs batted in along with a .452 batting average. The catcher was also a first-team Academic All-American.
● South Alabama’s Elisa Axelsen and Madison Connell have been named Women’s Golf Coaches Association’s All-American Scholars. Connell posted a career-best 77.79 stroke average while Axelsen finished with a 79.46 stroke average.