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Meghan Matheny wins the pole vault competition at Nazareth (Photo by Ithaca College)

ITHACA, NY -- As one might imagine, 12 months of cancelations can create a very jammed-up story pipeline, and I recall looking at a headline from February of 2020 and thinking how much fun it would be to follow up. The headline stated, “Pole Vault Coach Builds Powerhouse Program at Ithaca College,” and that contention was backed up by a performance by Bomber sophomore Meghan Matheny that vaulted her — so to speak — into the position of the #1 pole vaulter in all of Division III. Soon thereafter… well, you know… a pandemic changed everything. 

Over the weekend, the Bombers picked up where they left off, getting back into action after nearly a full year and dominating the six-team field at Nazareth, racking up 261 points over 16 events to win the meet by an impressive 166 points. The other five teams in attendance amassed point totals of 95 (St. John Fisher College), 92 (Nazareth), 48 (Sage Colleges), 39 (Houghton College) and 38 (Alfred University). Remarkably, the Bombers took first place in 13 of the 16 events, and put up double-digit points in all but one event.

As expected, the pole vaulters came out strong, as Matheny took first place with a vault of 3.50 meters (11' 5.75"), which translated to 15th in the country. Freshman vaulter Gwen Gisler and senior Juliann Terry followed in second and third at 3.35 meters (10' 11.75") and 3.20 meters (10' 6") respectively.

Matt Scheffler — the coach overseeing the pole vaulters — is a busy guy. In addition to coaching the men and women at IC, he does the same for Lansing High, and he runs the Tompkins County Pole Vault Club.  

I am looking forward to writing a feature highlighting this fascinating athletic discipline, and to better understand the convergence of skills and physics.  

***

The Cornell Athletics community lost one of its greats a few days ago, as Glen Mueller passed on. Glen was a stellar two-sport athlete at Cornell (competing in basketball and lacrosse), and according to retired lacrosse coach Richie Moran —– who knew Mueller for over 60 years —– Glen “could have been a great linebacker or tight end.” 

Prior to coming to Cornell in 1969, Moran had been the de facto high priest of Long Island lacrosse as a native son and the coach at powerhouse Manhasset High.  He stated that he knew Mueller since the lad was about 10 years old, and in fact, Mueller was recruited by Moran’s predecessor, Ned Harkness, to play at Cornell.   When Richie took the job, he, like any new coach, had yet to field a team that he had recruited himself, so he was therefore delighted to have a player like Mueller there to help build the program. 

And build a program they did… The 1970 team ran the table, but the national champion was determined by a coaches’ poll rather than on the field, so the Big Red was overlooked.  The next year, the first NCAA tournament was held, and Cornell eliminated the need for any subjectivity, beating Brown, Navy and Maryland in the tournament to claim the first of Cornell’s three national championships. 

Of Mueller, Moran said, “Glen was a fierce competitor, and in fact, when he was in high school he was on the same All-Region team as Julius Erving.  He played a major role on our lacrosse teams in 1970 and ’71, and I always called him a great silent leader.  He was just a dynamo —– before, during and after practice —– and he had such an impact on his teammates.”  Moran added, “He was a 6’4” attackman, and some people called him ‘a monster.’  He didn’t run around defenders, he ran over them.  He was overpowering.” 

Moran’s admiration for Mueller extended far beyond their time as coach and player. “Glen’s connection with his teammates lasted throughout his life,” Richie offered, “and I will never forget when Bob Buhmann was very ill, and Glen and Bob Rule took him to California to see his kids.  It was a very kind and generous gesture.”    

Mueller worked at his alma mater, then went to work at Stanford for a few years as the college’s Chief Information Officer, but left in 1997 and eventually returned to Cornell, where he would serve as Audit Manager.   He was inducted into the Cornell Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008.  

 

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