The magazine for Western Washington University

National champion Brown soars to new heights

Senior prepares to defend his fourth national title in two years

Print this story
For the second year in a row, Ryan Brown is an indoor national pole vault champion. | Photo by Cynthia Brown (Ryan

Senior Ryan Brown became the first individual in Western’s history to win back-to-back national championships in March when he successfully defended his national pole vault title in the NCAA Division II indoor track and field championships.

Brown’s winning vault of 17 feet, 2¾ inches beat his championship effort last year by 3¾ inches. He was the nation’s top-ranked vaulter heading into the championship meet, but the competition still had its nail-biting moments.

“Ryan skipped the first two heights and was down to his third and final attempt at 16-2¾, but he kept his composure and cleared it,” says Pee Wee Halsell, Western’s Track and Field coach. “Then he got into a rhythm and it may have been his best competition as far as progression. It was amazing to watch.”

The 6-foot, 3-inch Brown, a senior from Bellingham, is also the defending NCAA Division II outdoor national champion in the pole vault. He’s scheduled to defend that title at the national championship meet in May.

After that, who knows? Brown has Olympic dreams. Halsell thinks Brown is capable of soaring to 19 feet, which would have won a bronze medal in the last Olympics. But while they respect his athletic ability, Brown’s coaches and teammates also admire him for being a solid, level-headed guy.

“There’s a huge team of people who helped me,” says Brown, who wants to be a chiropractor. “I wish I could bring them all up on the podium. But it’s a pretty small podium.”