“River Vault” brings aspiring Olympians to Riverfest

Olympic hopefuls Shawn Francis, Peter Geraghty stop in La Crosse

Riverfest might be known for those Rocky’s cheese curds, but Friday, attendees could get a taste of the Olympics.

The La Crosse Track Club hosted the fifth annual River Vault, a pole vault competition bringing in more than 50 athletes from all over the Midwest and beyond. There were $1,000 cash prizes up for grabs, but event organizers were reaching for something larger

“It’s just an awesome atmosphere to get to people at River Fest, get the exposure for the pole vault, which you don’t see it unless you go to track meets and it’s just not the same thing at a track meet,” said Jeremiah Burish, who founded River Vault as a former pole vaulter at UW-La Crosse.

Anyone could compete, but the spotlight was on two Olympic hopefuls: Shawn Francis and Peter Geraghty. Francis placed second at the USA Track and Field Indoor Championships. He holds one of the top vault heights in the country this season. Geraghty, meanwhile, finished fourth at the US Outdoor Championships last week.

“It’s a little bit more relaxed, but still a lot of fun,” Geraghty said. “I think every vaulter here still wants to jump a personal record.”

“Look at all these people,” said Francis, while turning towards the crowd. “There’s not a better meet around at this time of the year.”

Proceeds benefit the La Crosse Track Club.