The Great White North


"Take off, eh?"

A line from the show "The Great White North" Nope, part of an exchange between a more talented and certainly more articulate Canadian duo, freshman pole vaulters Rudy Buntic and Steve Pinne.

Thanks to these Canadian natives, the Harvard pole vaulting corps has maintained its long standing tradition of excellence. Since 1966 when Steve Schonover her arm office of the first vaulters in the Last to clear 16 feet. Harvard has had valuators of championship quality.

Of course the arrival of Buntic and Pinney is particularly timely. Last year's star vaulter. Dave Randall graduated and according to Haggerty. We were left with inexperience".

Besides more than adequately filling the void Randall left, the pair adds a lot to the aura of excitement that is characteristic of this season's indoor track squad. "They are confident about their abilities," Haggerty says, "It's important to have people like that because their confidence rubs off"


Although they come from different areas of Ontario--Pinney hauls from Kingston, while Buntie is a Toronto native-their paths to the Crimson vaulting team are remarkably similar. Both began their track careers as high jumpers but when entering high school switched to vaulting.

"I was high jumping in ninth grade, but I noticed that the bar was higher in pole vaulting, so I switched," Buntic explains.

Pinney moved to vaulting when he entered Frontenoc Secondary School in tenth grade, though his first vaulting experience came two years earlier when he cleared an eight-foot high clothesline using a pine tree as a pole.

Throughout their high school careers the two laced each other occasionally in summer competition, and in their senior year, they went head-to-head at the Ontario Championships. They had heard of each other and knew that the other was applying to Harvard, but they did not plan on attending the same school. As Hunts put it. It just worked out that way.

There certainly have been no problems making the transition from competitors to teammates. Although Bunts usually clears 16 feet, and Planney has yet to clear 15 in a Harvard meet there is rivalry between them.

Onward and Upward

"We just try to help each other," Pinney said. "We watch each other and it does us both a lot of good." Working together is particularly helpful in pole vaulting, indisputably the most technical and dangerous of track events.

Even more beneficial than the mechanical and they offer each other is the moral support Pole vaulting practice can be grueling and tedious. Even during the meets there is very little fan attention, and their cheers keep each other motivated.

Buntic and Pinney's similarities extend far beyond their event and their roots; both are interested in science, and both have the same attitude toward their event. They share a streak of recklessness that keeps them vaulting despite the long hours and the danger. In fact, it is the danger itself that keeps them flying over the pole.

"The beauty of the event is that you have to walk a fine line," Pinney says. "In order to get the most out of the event you have to take a chance."

Buntic adds. "The risk is part of the deal."