One of the area’s most unique events returns to downtown Mobile this Saturday. For the seventh straight year, the Dauphin Street Vault (DSV) will display some incredibly talented athletes in an interesting setting.
Everything necessary to conduct this high-flying field event — including portable runways, crossbars and landing pads — are placed on the pavement between Jackson and Joachim streets. Instead of the typically quiet atmosphere found at a normal track meet, the Dauphin Street Vault is in the middle of the restaurants and nightclubs. With a disc jockey and light show provided by Red Bull, it takes on the appearance of a block party.
“This all-day event has Mobile-style all over it,” said Susan Shaw, director of events and marketing for the Mobile Sports Authority. “We convert a block in the heart of our entertainment district to celebrate the community and the art of pole vaulting.
“There is plenty of shopping and great places to dine for viewing the event. T.P. Crockmier’s and LoDa Bier Garten will again be serving tables outside for spectators to have the best experience possible. Some of the top pole vaulters in the nation will be competing, so join us for the party.”
Even with all the other activities, this is first and foremost a serious athletic competition. All ages and skill levels have taken part, including Olympians and professionals. The USA Track Federation sanctions the meet.
“Our two best competitors are Devin King [DSV meet record holder with jump of 18 feet],” said Thomas Fowlkes, one of the event’s organizers. “He just got fourth place at the USATF Outdoors with a jump of 18 feet, 8.75 inches.
“We will also have Tray Oates, whose personal best is 19 feet. Tray got fourth place at the Olympic Trials last summer.”
Action begins at 9 a.m. with the Open Division warm-ups on Pit A (10 foot) and Pit B (5 foot). The Open Division will compete from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
At 6 p.m., the runway opens for the Elite Division. After the awards for the Open Division are presented at 6:45 p.m., the vaulting stars take the spotlight at 7 p.m. The awards ceremony is slated for 10 p.m., but these showdowns often last much later into the night as the vaults surpass the balconies lining Dauphin Street.
USA player earns honors
It has been a busy few weeks for the University of South Alabama’s Travis Swaggerty. The sophomore outfielder has been named a Division I All-American by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA)/Rawlings for the 2017 season.
The Mandeville, Louisiana, native was already a second-team All-America selection by the ABCA All-America committee. He was eligible after being a first-team all-South Central Region player.
Earlier this month, Swaggerty was named to the USA Baseball National Collegiate Team Roster. He is one of 13 position players on the squad that will play five games against Cuba. The final 24-man roster will be announced prior to the 41st United States vs. Japan Collegiate All-Star Series, which is scheduled for July 12-17.
The left-hander earned batting champion honors for his performance during a series with Chinese Taipei, which the U.S. swept in five games. He led the team in batting average (.417) and stolen bases (4), and tied for the team lead in on-base percentage (.500).
Swaggerty was on the Sun Belt Conference’s first-team squad. He led the SBC in on-base percentage at .484 — which ranked 12th in the nation — as well as runs batted in (60) and runs scored (55). He was second in batting average (.363) and total bases (125), and fourth in stolen bases.
A freshman all-American pick by Collegiate Baseball, Swaggerty helped the Jaguars win the SBC tournament by hitting .417 with a double, RBI, two runs scores and a stolen base.
Swaggerty has also spent time this summer in the Cape Cod Baseball League for the Brewster Whitecaps. He is one of three Jaguars competing in the CCBL.
Badger also recognized
Freshmen pitcher Sean Bretz of Spring Hill College has been named a second-team member of the ABCA/Rawlings All-South Region Team for NCAA Division II. The right-hander from River Ridge, Louisiana, Bretz had an 8-1 record with one save and a 1.57 earned run average.
Included in his 16 appearances were 10 starts. He struck out 77 batters in 74.1 innings pitched. Against Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference teams, he was a perfect 7-0 with a 1.22 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 44.1 innings.
The Badgers were 29-20 overall and a league-leading 17-4 mark in the SIAC. They were not eligible for postseason play as they are in the final year of transition to the NCAA.
Never too late
A grassroots effort is trying to get David Donald Albritton a spot in the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. On July 12, 1936, the native of Danville, Alabama, set a world record at the U.S. Olympic Trials in New York City with a 6-foot, 9.75-inch effort in the high jump. Cornelius Bennett matched that effort at the same meet, making them the first African-American athletes to hold the high jump mark.
At the infamous Berlin Olympics, he became the first native of Alabama to win an Olympic medal. Jesse Owens, his longtime friend with whom he attended high school in Cleveland, earned his initial medal the following day in the 100-meter dash.
Also a Golden Gloves boxing champion, Albritton ended up graduating from Ohio State University. He coached Dunbar High School in Dayton, Ohio, to numerous state titles and was honored with the street in front of the school being named for him. Albritton later ran a successful insurance company for 30 years while also serving six terms in Ohio’s legislature.
He has already earned berths in numerous halls of fame: Ohio State, U.S. Track and Field, and Morgan County in Alabama. In 2013, an historic marker was put up in Danville to recognize his hometown.
Albritton was nominated for the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2013, but he was not chosen. Tom Roberts III, who is organizing the grassroots effort, is asking individuals who think Albritton has been overshadowed by Owens to contact Scott Myers — executive director of the ASHOF — at 2150 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. N., Birmingham, AL, 35203.
As Roberts wrote, “After eight decades this man deserves our highest consideration to preserve his memory and contributions.” You can reach Roberts at [email protected].