One of the most highly anticipated competitions in Mobile each year is about to take place. And I am not talking about the Nappie Awards.
The Dauphin Street Vault (DSV) is returning to downtown this Saturday for the ninth time. A section of the road just past Cathedral Square is blocked off to provide pole vaulters of varied ages and skill levels a very unique venue for testing their abilities.
“In terms of new developments, Dauphin Street Vault has recently been reorganized as a nonprofit with a mission for raising awareness for the pole vault,” Thomas Fowlkes, one of the organizers, told Lagniappe. “The format will remain the same with vaulters from across the country coming to Mobile to compete.”
For those who have never witnessed the event, it is not your typical track meet. Thanks to a sponsorship by groups such as Red Bull, there is vibrant dance music and pulsating lights to pump up the athletes while the crowd is lined up on both sides of the runway to cheer them on. As the night grows later, some of the competitors can be seen flying above the cast iron balconies.
“Our Elite Field will include a number of Olympic hopefuls, including DSV meet record-holder Devin King, who is currently one of the top-ranked pole vaulters in the world,” Fowlkes said. “Lindsey Murray, also one of the best in the world, will be traveling from Illinois to compete.”
King and Cole Walsh tied for first place last year after each passed 18 feet and 2 inches in height. Taking top honors in the women’s division was Anika Newell, with a leap of 14 feet.
The Open Division of this USA Track & Field-sanctioned event begins at 10 a.m. The Elite Division begins at 7 p.m. and will last until at least 10 p.m. More than 200 vaulters are expected to compete.
Because the number of spectators has also increased over the years, organizers have decided to do more to protect the crowds.
“Joachim Street has remained open in years past, but in the interest of safety, we are closing it this year as well,” Fowlkes said. “Too many spectators inevitably stand in the intersection, creating a safety hazard for motorists.”
Fowlkes said he expects an even larger group of fans this year. Organizers have expanded the block of rooms reserved at the Hilton Garden Inn three times and it has continued to sell out.
“So there is definitely an economic impact/heads-in-beds component to the event,” Fowlkes said. “At a much needed time for downtown, too, as it’s typically pretty slow [in the summer].”
Fowlkes said some of the merchants have told him the DSV is their second-busiest day of the year after Mardi Gras. This increased interest by spectators has helped organizers gain support from the community.
“We have expanded sponsorships this year, which has helped grow the event in a big way,” Fowlkes said. “Ken McElhaney at State Farm, Matt Golden at LoDa BierGarten, Carol Hunter from Downtown Mobile Alliance and Danny Corte from the Mobile Sports Authority are all amazing contributors to the event, and we’re really grateful for the transformative support.”
For more information, visit dauphinstreetvault.org.
WORLD’S LARGEST FISHING TOURNAMENT
The Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo (ADSFR) is also this weekend. A project of the Mobile Jaycees since 1929, the tournament now attracts more than 3,500 anglers and 75,000 spectators to Dauphin Island.
The 86th annual ADSFR will be take place Friday through Sunday. It is a three-day Captain’s Choice tournament and a Southern Kingfish Association-sanctioned event. The total awards package is valued up to $1 million in cash and prizes.
The lineup features 30 categories with prizes awarded for first, second and third place in all categories. One Master Angler is awarded along with cash prizes for King Mackerel, Speckled Trout and Big Game Jackpots.
For those individuals not hooked on fishing, there is plenty to do on Dauphin Island during the tournament. Bands scheduled to perform at the rodeo site are Blues in Trouble, The Molly Ringwalds, Prime Country, The Red Clay Strays, Bruce Smelley, Keith Burns and The Back Pew Riders.
All proceeds benefit the Mobile Jaycees Children’s Christmas Shopping Tour. For more information on the tournament, visit adsfr.com.
HIGH SCHOOL RECOGNITION
The Sunrise Rotary Club of Mobile recently presented its Spring Sports Awards. Each year, the club recognizes outstanding high school athletes in these particular sports.
The students this year are Libbie Hamilton of St. Paul’s Episcopal School for girls tennis, Hallet Green of McGill-Toolen Catholic High School for boys tennis, Lauren Gilchrist of UMS-Wright Preparatory School for girls golf, Price Brown of McGill-Toolen for boys golf, Cate Baggett of McGill-Toolen for girls soccer and Cole Little of St. Paul’s for boys soccer.
** The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has named University of Mobile’s Emily Chang first-team all-American. The senior went undefeated in the regular season, not conceding a single set. Her only loss was in the second round of the NAIA Championships. She was also named the Southern States Athletic Conference Women’s Tennis Player of the Year.
** The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) has included three Rams on its all-American list. Joining Chang are senior Mark Simons and sophomore Boris Klingebiel.
Simons has been named an ITA all-American in both men’s singles and men’s doubles. He finished the season ranked No. 20 in the country in singles and No. 2 in the country in doubles. He was second-team NAIA all-American.
Klingebiel has been named ITA all-American in men’s singles. He finished the season with a singles record of 9-4, playing in the No. 1 spot for the Rams. In doubles, Klingebiel and Simons wrapped up the year with a 14-1 record, including a win over the top-ranked doubles pair in the country during the third round of the NAIA Championships. Klingebiel also received an NAIA all-American Honorable Mention honors.
** University of South Alabama’s Yu Fujioka was voted Sun Belt Conference Women’s Tennis Player of the Year. She and Alexandria Stiteler also earned first-team all-conference honors. Fujioka will enter her junior campaign with the best singles win percentage in school history (.949). Stiteler, a senior, led the Sun Belt in wins (16) and win percentage (.696) at the top singles flight.
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