Derek Miles will go down in Track and Field history as one the best Pole Vaulters. Ever. During his outstanding career the University of South Dakota alum was: a 5X All American at USD, a 3X US Olympian and 6X World Championships team member, a 3X Drake Relays Special Invite champion, and a 2X Drake Relays Pole Vault in the Mall champion. Miles is in his 14th season as a member of the USD coaching staff. His lifetime best in
the Pole Vault is 19’ 2 ½”.
I distinctly remember my first Drake relays experience for multiple reasons. It was my junior year and I finally jumped high enough to sneak into the bottom of the field. I was certainly outclassed by the talent in the field but was so excited to have the opportunity and I can recall matching my seasons best but more importantly, seeing firsthand what that level of competition looked like. I also remember jumping inside due to weather and being amazed to see Carl Lewis being escorted across the runway in front of me after having raced outside in the cold rain. The following day I got to watch an elite pole vault competition where the best of the United States jumped. All 3 things happened in one Drake relays experience and I can remember it like it was yesterday. I remember even buying sunglasses later very similar to ones worn by one of the elite vaulters that day! I had the opportunity to get autographs from a few of the athletes that I would be fortunate enough to jump against in future Olympic Trials. Those types of experiences don’t happen very often but sure impact young athletes.
Drake has always been a special meet in the fact that they have worked tirelessly to make the next relays even more special then the last for all athletes from high school to elite. To compete with, and then watch the best that the NCAA and professional ranks have to offer is something very rare for young athletes. I thoroughly enjoyed competing at the Relays not only a collegiate athlete but as a professional as well. Amazing mall vaults and Saturday elite competitions will forever hold a special place in my mental mantle.