Kirk Capdeville didn't leave it up to chance this year.
In 2013, the Minot State pole vaulter missed the NCAA Division II Indoor Track & Field Championships on the technicality of a tiebreaker. Though he finished tied for the final spot, he ended up on the outside looking in.
This season, Capdeville, a junior from Hinsdale, Mont., ended up squarely in the top 16, with the 13th-best mark in the nation. Now that he's qualified for this year's national event, which begins today at Winston Salem State in North Carolina, he's aims to distinguish himself as MSU's first men's track and field Division II All-American.
"I guess my goal wasn't just to make it to nationals," Capdeville said. "I know I'm capable of being in the top eight. We had a practice yesterday and I felt pretty healthy and good."
Capdeville, who redshirted in 2012, placed 13th at the NAIA Indoor Championships as a freshman, clearing a height of 14 feet, 9 inches. During the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Indoor Championships on Feb. 28 and March 1, he took second with a mark of 16-.
MSU coach Stu Melby expects the 16-4 height to be near the cutoff for the top eight, which is good for All-American status.
"But I think he's capable of going even higher than that, the next bar up or more," Melby said. "Kirk's got the ability to be 17."
Capdeville said he's cleared 17 feet before, but only in the closed confines of practice.
"It's kind of like a basketball player saying he scored 50 points in practice. It's not his high game score," Capdeville said. "It just has to be done at the meet. I know I can do that and I have the poles to do it, it just depends on the day and the health and the technique."
At the NSIC event, he competed against Sioux Falls' Jagger Gran and Scott Greenman, who are tied for fifth in the country. And last year, Capdeville tagged along to accompany former MSU vaulter Abbey Aide to the Division II Nationals. He been to other major meets and said he doesn't expect to be overwhelmed by the grand scale of this weekend's competition.
"I've been to the indoor and outdoor NAIA nationals and going on last year's trip, it feels like just another meet to me," Capdeville said. "I'm not going to be super shocked at the scale of how large it is."
Today and Saturday, he has a chance to make history for a program in its second season as a full-fleged Division II member.
"His expectations coming here is to be in the top eight, All-American," Melby said. "He's very capable of doing that."
Ryan Holmgren covers Minot State athletics and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgren.