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ND Track & Field: Schipper siblings fight for Big East pole vault title

Matthew Robison | Thursday, January 14, 2010

Among the many standouts on this year’s promising Irish squad are brothers Matt and Kevin Schipper. The tandem has led Notre Dame as one of the best one-two punches in pole vaulting in the Big East for the last two years.

In the first indoor event of the season, the Blue and Gold Invitational on Dec. 3, the two finished first and second with Kevin as the winner and Matt as a close runner-up.
Matt, a senior, has been a top Big East performer for the last several years. Last year, Matt earned victories at the Blue and Gold Invitational, the Notre Dame Invitational and the Big East Indoor Championships. Later in the season, Matt claimed his second conference title with a pole vault victory at the Big East outdoor championships.

Matt has consistently improved over the years as both his statistics and his results have improved with experience. His freshman year he placed fifth with a 4.65-meter mark at the Big East outdoor championship and followed that up the next year with a fourth place finish with a jump of 4.95 meters and a vault of 5.06 meters at the NCAA Championships.

Last year was the best of his career as he finished fifth in the NCAA Championships with a personal best of 5.16 meters.

This year, Matt will face stiff competition in his quest for a second consecutive Big East sweep in the pole vault from someone he has known his entire life — his younger brother.
Kevin, a sophomore, burst onto the pole vaulting scene as a freshman last year with a second place finish at the Big East indoor championships, placing fourth with a mark of 5.10 meters.

He will be gunning for his brother’s title and has already shown he can be a challenge after a second place finish at the Blue and Gold Invitational with a 4.80-meter vault.

The brothers have certainly displayed their dominance of the Big East in their performances last year and look ready to do the same this year.

Irish coach Joe Piane has high praise for the tandem and adds that the sibling rivalry works to the brothers’ advantage when training.

“First of all, they’re both 17-foot vaulters,” Piane said. “But they are competitive not only with their opponents in meets, but with each other in practice.”

Matt and Kevin may compete against each other on a daily basis, but those battles will heat up even more at the season progresses and the Irish head into Big East competition.

The two will get their first chance of the year to compete against each other and other vaulters this weekend at the Notre Dame Indoor Opener, beginning Friday at the Loftus Sports Complex at 7 p.m.