Everett Brandyberry’s biggest flaw is he loves pole vaulting too much.
Brandyberry, a junior at Hill City has a difficult time putting the pole down for a day. The day prior to the Hill City Invitational on April 25, he reached 13 feet, 6 inches in practice on his own time. For that reason, he has yet to clear 12-6 in competition, according to head coach Keith Riley.
“He hasn’t got his head around that yet,” Riley said.
Putting in the extra work just comes naturally to Brandyberry, though.
Brandyberry made the jump to the 12-6 club — a height only reached by a number of high schoolers in Kansas each season — his first meet of 2016. As much as he wanted to fly high as a sophomore, he had no option but to remain grounded.
In a midseason basketball game in Feb. 2015, Brandyberry went in for a routine lay-up. An opponent came in swiping, bumping Brandyberry’s left knee, still planted on the ground.
“I remember when it happened. I freaked out. I was sure I tore something,” Brandyberry said. “I walked off the court under my own power, just told coach I was gonna run it off. I could run pretty well and was like, ‘It ain’t nothing serious’. I iced it that night and it was killer. We went up to Kearney (Neb.) that day. I had (torn my) ACL and partial MCL, too.
“It sucked because I knew I was gonna miss all of track season.”
Even as a two-year starter on the court and quarterback on the football team, Brandyberry’s passion comes in competing in pole vault.
“It started in seventh grade,” Brandyberry said. “A kid in the class above me, we were talking in class one day and he was like, ‘Come track season, you need to come try this, it’s fun’. I came out and loved it. (I) stuck with it ever since.
“It’s cool to say, ‘Hey, I’m a pole vaulter.’ ”
Shortly after Brandyberry’s surgery, he began making frequent trips for physical therapy to Stockton. With the goal to come back faster and stronger, he put everything into his rehab and received daily motivation from his parents. However, even against the advice of his therapist, he made his way back onto the track early.
“I wasn’t supposed to do any running or anything for four months after surgery. I came out here and helped at track practice and vaulted like two months after surgery,” Brandyberry said. “I got really lucky I didn’t mess something up worse. I was feeling pretty good then at four months. When I first got to start running, it felt great. I started going to the gym some. It was a little shaky to begin with, but I felt good to go. I was released at five months, which is early for an ACL. It was awesome.”
Brandyberry came back for football season and helped lead the Ringnecks’ run during the state basketball tournament. He quickly overcame the mental barrier that comes with trusting his knee after a severe injury.
“I was just confident on it. It just felt great,” Brandyberry said. “I did have a scare during basketball season. I didn’t wear my brace the first half of the season. Then, against Rexford, kinda the same deal. I was going up for a layup, got hit from behind, and hyperextended it. I wore my brace the rest of the season just kinda as a head deal.”
With the season inching closer and closer to the state meet, Brandyberry’s hopes continue to raise. Beyond reaching 13-6, he plans to have the school’s top mark of 14-2 by season’s end.
“I need to be going higher,” Brandyberry said.