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David Ward
David Ward joined the App State staff in the fall of 2003.
photo courtesy of Appalachian State Athletics

App State Track and Field Pole Vault Coach to Retire

App State track and field’s long-time pole vault coach David Ward has announced his retirement after serving on the Mountaineers’ staff for 20 years.

He joined the App State staff in the fall of 2003.

“I can’t thank David Ward enough for his mentorship, leadership and the care he had for the student-athletes of this program and App State Athletics,” track and field head coach Damion McLean said. “It has been great having an individual you would love to have around teaching you different aspects of coaching and life, especially that actually came from this program.”

Ward, a 1979 graduate of App State, was a six-time All-Southern Conference performer in the pole vault. As a Mountaineer, he was the indoor and outdoor pole vault record holder, recording clearances of 4.72m (15′ 6″, indoor) and 4.92m (16′ 2″, outdoor). Ward remains on the App State all-time list for the outdoor pole vault, checking in at sixth and following current athletes Patrick Freeman (4.97m (16′ 4″), fourth) and Taylor Fox (4.94m (16′ 2.75″), fifth), who both recorded their clearances under Ward’s guidance during the 2022 season.

“I would like to say thank you to Roachel Laney, John Weaver, and Damion McLean for affording me the opportunity to be an assistant track coach at the finest school in the land,” Ward said. “I have been truly blessed to have coached many incredible student-athletes. It has also been my honor and privilege to have served with great coaches, not just in track and field, but in all the other sports teams at App. I plan on devoting my retirement years to being the best grandfather, father, and husband that I can be.”

Ward coached each of the 10 women on the App State all-time list for both indoor and outdoor pole vault records, including current indoor record holder Suzanne Makinson (4.05m (13′ 3.75″), 2004) and outdoor record holder Taylor Drummonds (4.01m (13′ 2.25″), 2017). He also coached eight of the top 10 men’s indoor performers (with the exception of Todd Poremba, 1998, and Wes Pickens, 2002), and eight of the top 10 men’s outdoor performers, with the exception of the current record holder Poremba (1998) and himself (1979).

The App State men clinched a total of six consecutive SoCon titles in the pole vault (three indoor and three outdoor) from 2006 to 2008. Barron Shell captured back-to-back indoor and outdoor SoCon titles in 2006 and 2007, while Mike Wilson took gold in the 2008 indoor season and Ryan Twiford earned the 2008 outdoor title. Philip Thomas earned App State’s last SoCon pole vault title in 2014 before the Mountaineers’ move to the Sun Belt Conference.

Tristian Shaver earned App State’s first Sun Belt indoor pole vault title in 2019 after tying with Arkansas State’s Michael Carr. Shaver and Carr had both cleared 5.13m (16′ 10″), which led to a jump off. Shaver clinched the title after clearing 5.18m (17′ 0″) and set what still stands as App State’s program record for the indoor pole vault.

On the women’s side, the Mountaineers captured five consecutive SoCon pole vault titles for the indoor and outdoor seasons under Ward’s direction. Shea Snow captured the indoor and outdoor titles in 2008 and returned to earn the 2009 indoor title. Julie Ward clinched the 2009 and 2010 indoor pole vault titles. In 2011, Cassandra Crawford swept the indoor and outdoor pole vault titles with matching clearances of 3.80m (12′ 5.5″) in each.

Prior to his time at App State, Ward spent 11 years as a high school track, cross country, and strength & conditioning coach.

Individual Titles Under Coach Ward’s Direction
Men’s Individual SoCon Titles
2003 Outdoor – Jon Norman – 4.60m (15′ 1″)
2005 Indoor – Dan Queen – 4.90m (16′ 0.75″)
2006 Indoor – Barron Shell – 4.71m (15′ 5.5″)
2006 Outdoor – Barron Shell – 4.74m (15′ 7″)
2007 Indoor – Barron Shell – 4.56m (14′ 11.5″)
2007 Outdoor – Barron Shell – 4.59m (15′ 1″)
2008 Indoor – Mike Wilson – 4.70m (15′ 5″)
2008 Outdoor – Ryan Twiford – 4.64m (15′ 2.75″)
2014 Indoor – Philip Thomas – 4.70m (15′ 5″)

Men’s Individual Sun Belt Titles
2019 Indoor – Tristian Shaver – 5.18m (17′ 0″) (jump off mark) – 5.13m (16′ 10″) (regular mark)

Women’s Individual SoCon Titles
2006 Indoor – Caren Mah – 3.50m (11′ 5.75″)
2008 Indoor – Shea Snow – 3.70m (12′ 1.5″)
2008 Outdoor – Shea Snow – 3.64m (11′ 11.25″)
2009 Indoor – Julie Ward – 3.60m (11′ 9.75″)
2009 Outdoor – Shea Snow – 3.70m (12′ 1.5″)
2010 Indoor – Julie Ward – 3.55m (11′ 7.75″)
2011 Indoor – Cassandra Crawford – 3.80m (12′ 5.5″)
2011 Outdoor – Cassandra Crawford – 3.80m (12′ 5.5″)