Burries continues family vaulting legacy at state

The pole vaulting roots of the person seeded second at the boys state meet date formed during a far simpler time.

Some eight decades after the fact, Conner Burries is proud to be part of such lineage.

“My dad used to pole vault and my great-grandpa used to pole vault, so it’s a little bit in the family,” said Burries, a recent Center Grove graduate whose topsy-turvy prep career could conclude on Saturday with a medal at Indiana University.

“I started pole vaulting my freshman year. What really got me into it was my interest in the sport.”

In the early 1940s, Burries’ great-grandfather, Dale Burries, who attended Arsenal Tech, placed fifth in the event.

Those were the days anything over 12 feet was considered touching the clouds with one’s feet during the ascent.

Conner Burries — who could only clear 10 feet as a ninth-grader, had his sophomore season eliminated by the COVID-19 pandemic and sustained a season-ending injury as a junior — is determined to atone for past disappointments.

“It’s his drive and his work ethic to get better. The kid has had so many setbacks,” said 2019 Center Grove graduate Nate Line, who is in his second season coaching pole vaulters at his alma mater.

“He wants this, and it’s extremely important to him.”

Burries won last week’s regional at Greenfield-Central with a top height of 15 feet, 6 inches. He established a new school record of 15-10 a week earlier at the Columbus North Sectional, surpassing Josh Hall’s previous standard of 15-9.

Momentum, clearly, is on Burries’ side.

He is seeded second to Hobart junior Cody Johnston, who won the Valparaiso Regional with a height of 16-7. Johnston placed third at the 2021 state meet at Ben Davis.

Burries was capable of being there, but he found himself in the crosshairs of fate early in his junior season.

He demonstrated his progress by making it over 13-6 at the Ben Davis Invitational. However, in the Trojans’ next meet at Southport, Burries landed awkwardly during warmups and dislocated his right ankle.

“That was the craziest thing that I’ve ever seen happen,” Line said. “It was just extremely bizarre and wild. Conner was trying to bail out of the jump and he just misses all of the padding.”

Burries could have stopped pole vaulting then and there. Could have figured the track and field gods weren’t siding with him and called it a day.

Not an option, the senior said.

“No, not at all,” Burries said. “The thing that has driven me my whole career is to break Josh Hall’s school record.”

Burries recently committed to Indiana State University, where he’ll compete for the men’s team and major in business marketing.

In the meantime, his incentives revolve solely around Robert C. Haugh Stadium.

“Obviously, you would like to be seeded high,” Burries said. “But you can’t be satisfied with just the seeding. I’m just going to go into it and just compete. Just do my best.”

Added Line: “I don’t think it’s too far of a stretch for Conner to win the thing, but I would definitely expect the top three. But it’s the state meet, so anything can happen.”


IHSAA state finals

When: Saturday, noon (Unified meet) and 3 p.m. (boys meet)

Where: Robert C. Haugh Track and Field Complex, Indiana University

Admission: $12 per person; children 24 months and younger free

County qualifiers

4×800 relay: Center Grove (seeded ninth)

100 meters: Brandon Wheat, Center Grove (ninth)

110 hurdles: Parker Doyle, Center Grove (seventh)

200 meters: Matthew Wray, Whiteland (sixth); Wheat, Center Grove (10th)

1,600 meters: Griffin Hennessy, Center Grove (16th)

300 hurdles: Doyle, Center Grove (15th)

4×100 relay: Whiteland (24th)

400 meters: Zach Greller, Center Grove (21st)

3,200 meters: Parker Mimbela, Center Grove (seventh)

4×400 relay: Center Grove (fourth)

Discus: Garrett Messer, Center Grove (13th)

Shot put: Dylan Mayhew, Greenwood (13th)

Pole vault: Conner Burries, Center Grove (second); Scott Parrish, Whiteland (14th); Carter Pheifer, Center Grove (17th)