SALEM, N.C. - When Minot State junior Kirk Capdeville cleared 16 feet, three quarters of an inch, he knew he had a chance to make history.
"I looked this week and saw that 16-1 was All-American last year so I knew I was close," he said. "I was tied for ninth going in and was a little sloppy at 16-1, but it relaxed me and I knew that if I jumped clean I had a good shot at it."
A relaxed Capdeville had more than a good shot, his next height, 16-4 , secured him a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field Championships, a new personal best, a new school record and the distinction of the first MSU men's All-American at the Division II level.
Photo courtesy Minot State Sports Information
"There is a lot of excitement in our program today," MSU coach Stu Melby said. "When we recruited Kirk four years ago, we know that something like this could happen. It's a testament to how hard he worked and how determined he was. It's an event that if it all comes together, it can be magic."
Remaining calm and relaxed was the theme after Capdeville received his medal for fifth and stood on the podium as the first place-winner in school history. He acknowledged that it was an important vault, but wasn't too overwhelmed.
"I'm not saying I expected it or anything like that, but I've been thinking about this for a while," he said. "When I was younger, I had more trouble getting ready for big meets, but nothing has really changed since I started vaulting in, what, seventh grade. I was relaxed today.
"We have jumped against some good competition this year, the Sioux Falls guys are really good and I felt I could compete here. I wish we could have had some more people qualify because a big thing is realizing that if you get here, you can compete against everyone here."
Yordan Yamoah of Texas A&M-Kingsville won the event with a vault of 17- while USF's Scott Greenman finished just ahead of Capdeville in third giving the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference two in the top five.
"We went to some big events like the Mankato meet and he has vaulted against good competition this year and he was down here with us last year to help with Abbey (former MSU vaulter Abbey Aide), so he was comfortable," Melby said. "Plus, getting here on Tuesday was big for him as he was able to relax and get used to things here."
Capdeville came into the event 14th overall, but knew if he stayed steady, it would take big PRs from the competition to drop him down.
"There were a lot of guys with big PRs as their height they used to get here, but I've been pretty consistent all year," Capdevile said. "It really helped to have some time down here to get some practice in and to get more comfortable on the track. I was super tired right away off the plane, but we got some time to ease into it and that helped for me to stay consistent."
For Melby, it was a big day as he saw one of his first Division II recruits finish as an All-American and watched Capdeville take the lead for the future of MSU vaulters.
"We have some really good vaulters coming in, including the state champion from last year, so the future is bright for us," Melby said. "Kirk will hopefully be able to pass some of this on to the next generation like Cody (MSU pole vault coach Cody Goetz) did for him."
Capdeville now turns his sights to the outdoor championships.
"I'm still hungry," he said.
Follow The Minot Daily News sports staff on Twitter @MDN_Sports.