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All TCU. All the time.

TCU 360

The Skiff Orientation Edition: Welcome, Class of 28!
The Skiff Orientation Edition: Welcome, Class of '28!
By Georgie London, Staff Writer
Published May 13, 2024
Advice from your fellow Frogs, explore Fort Worth, pizza reviews and more. 

Ben Kirbo: TCU’s pole vault prodigy is springing new heights

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Ben Kirbo competing in an outdoor meet. (Photo courtesy of gofrogs.com)

A sophomore pole vaulter has set a couple of TCU track and field records. But Ben Kirbo has his eyes on what is still to come.

Kirbo started pole vaulting in middle school and has loved it ever since. He broke the Stephenville High School record, clearing 16 feet.  

TCU reached out shortly after.

Adjusting to the collegiate level, Kirbo found the academics were challenging but he succeeded athletically, thanks in large part to the help from his coach.

Marissa Chew, assistant coach for combined events/vertical jumps, has been a role model for him.

Ben Kirbo with his coach, Marissa Chew (TCU Track Photographer)

“She has really helped me progress to where I am now,” Kirbo said. “She has made me better not only as an athlete but as a person as well.” 

Pole vault may be an individual event, but team culture is still important to Kirbo. 

“Everyone works as a team, even though it is an individual sport,” he said. “We set each other up for success.” 

Adjusting to certain elements between indoor and outdoor can be difficult. Kirbo prefers indoor because the outdoor season comes with unpredictable weather and slower event starts. However, it’s all part of the sport he loves. 

“You just have to suck it up,” he said.    

Kirbo enters the outdoor season with high hopes of what he will accomplish, which would only be possible with the help of Chew. 

Her coaching philosophy, Kirbo said, is focusing on the run to prepare for everything else. 

“80% of pole vault is the run,” Kirbo said. “If you mess that up, it will kill your jump.”  

Chew cheers Kirbo along, pumping him up with a “Let’s get it” or “Let’s go.” And Kirbo knows it is time to listen to what she says and completely clear his mind.  

Kirbo has set school-records for pole vault in indoor and outdoor. Even with heights of 5.25 meters for indoor and 5.40 meters for outdoor, he isn’t satisfied. 

With two more years left in college after this outdoor season, Kirbo hopes competing professionally may be an option someday.

“Going pro would be freaking awesome and has always been a dream,” he said. “If it happens, it happens.” 

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