Keeping it Classy

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Team Tuxedo is a small group of Elite Pole Vaulters with big dreams of having the honor of competing in the Olympic Games. We promote the great sport of Pole Vault with class and integrity and support its growth and survival through competition, coaching and training.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Presenting Sam Pierson the New Tuxedoman

Photo Courtesy of Alan Versaw

This weekend, at the USA Indoor National Championship, some of you may notice that there is a gentleman pole vaulting in a bow tie who is not me. His name is Sam Pierson, and he is the new Tuxedoman. We had big plans to introduce him at the Simplot Games where we could jump together at our old training grounds, in our Tux's and could announce ourselves properly, finally making our dream of a Team Tuxedo a reality. But in my attempts to prepare for the competition I decided to land in the plant box at practice and separate my right shoulder and top two ribs. I'm healing up and hope to compete in a few outdoor meets before hanging up my spikes for good, but in the meantime, Sam has been flying high, securing his place at USA Indoors Ranked 9th in the Nation in a tie with former team mate and training partner Levi Keller, and Elite vaulter Jordan Scott. Not too shabby for a guy making his first appearance at a USA Championship.
Sam holds a special place in my heart for many reasons.
I coached him in college alongside of Dave Nielsen.
We trained together at Idaho State, with a unit of vaulters that was beyond crazy and successful, to name a few Levi Keller (18'+ vaulter, American Ninja Warrior, currently ranked #9 in the USA), Mike Arnold (18'8” vaulter, currently ranked #3 in the USA), Sam and myself.
We both have spines made from Kmart parts. In 2011 Sam bulged L4-5 and L5-S1. After 7 months of rehab he started jumping again in April of 2012 until a disc bulged in his neck pinching a nerve root to his right arm. The majority of his arm went into atrophy with the loss of the motor and sensory nerve function, and as the weeks progressed all the muscles on the right side of his upper back, chest and arm had shriveled up to half the size of the left. 9 months of rehabilitation later, Sam was healthy and vaulting again in January of 2013. 2013 proved to be a busy year (did I mention that Sam is a registered Nurse and during all this was working full-time at a hospital to support his wife and new born son? True story) Sam and his family decided to move to Colorado to get there new lives started. Sams wife Emmy landed a high enough paying job to support the family while Sam takes some time off work in 2014, to train and rest properly, so that he can pursue his dream of one day competing on the Olympic stage. Now a stay at home Dad, Sam is training full-time, switched from 16' to 16'5” poles and has already jumped a new lifetime best of 5.45m (17'10.5”) and will jump much higher in 2014.

Photo Courtesy of Alan Versaw

I can't think of a better fit for the Tuxedo. As my body wanes the idea can live on through him and others. A reminder that pole vault is fun and so very special. Despite what goes on in the politics of track and field we all need to be reminded from time to time how fortunate we are to participate in an event that is an adventure every time we depart down the runway, and should leave us all smiling no matter what the results on paper. What better an optimistic reminder than a guy strutting around in a spandex tuxedo.
Here are Details on Sams life and Career

HS-Pueblo South High School
HS PR-15' 8 1/2"
Runner up at 4A State Meet 2005 (Colorado)
State Champ 2006-jumped 15 8.5 setting Class 4A state meet record
HS Coach was Dad--Mark Pierson
Got some coach mentoring from Pat Manson
College PR--5.37 (17' 7")
Division 1 NCAA All-American
College Accolades--3x PV runner up in the Big Sky conference. 2x PV Conference champ, 1x conference champ in Heptathalon setting at the time the Big Sky conference meet record with 5456 (Only did 2 Heptathalon competitions in his college career). Tied for 6th place at 2011 NCAA indoor championships. competed at 2008 NCAA outdoor championship.
Degree--Bachelor of Science in Nursing- Licensed Registered Nurse
Currently living and training in Centennial Colorado back with Dad as coach. 
Photo Courtesy of Alan Versaw
Sam in his own words....
"My wife is supporting my pole vaulting ass while I take care of our son and chase the dream. I am the pole vault coach at Valor Christian High School in Highlands Ranch Colorado.
When I am not chasing around my awesome son and cleaning house I like to get outside. Hunting and fishing have always been passions of mine. When I get the chance I will go balls out down a mountainside on a mountain bike. Doing flip tricks off of anything that looks fun and awesome is a part of everyday life.  
Interesting fact: I bulged 2 discs in my lumbar spine in September 2011 (L4-5, L5-S1). After rehab I started jumping in April 2012 and bulged a disc in my neck losing feeling in part of my right arm and hand. I took the rest of the year off of training and started back up in January 2013.  
I just jumped my lifetime PR 1/19/14 of 5.45m at the Air Force Academy.
That being said I have been very blessed by God. I attribute my talents, abilities, and recovery to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 
Both of my brothers pole vaulted in high school (Jesse and Daniel)
My dad's lifetime PR is 16' and he is still vaulting. My mom's PR is 8' when she started to pole vault my senior year of high school (2006).
I met and married the love of my life at ISU. Emmy brightens my day each and every day. She pole vaulted at ISU with a lifetime best of 12'7"."
This is Sam Pierson, Tuxedoman


  1. Yes! It is like the announcement of a new Batman, you like the first one so much you can't wait to see the new one! Sorry about the shoulder Paul. Congrats to Sam on continuing an awesome tradition. And thank you for the mohawk helmet inspiration, you are leaving a greater legacy than you take credit for.

  2. It has been fun watching all you boys pole vault been watching ISU since 2001 Congrats to you all and best of luck