Ex-Olympian Schools Longhorn Pole Vaulters

April Steiner Bennett , a world-class pole vaulter, shared her athletic expertise July 17 with a group of PHS track and field team members.

April Steiner Bennett , a world-class pole vaulter, shared her athletic expertise July 17 with a group of PHS track and field team members. Photo by Andy Towle. |

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A world-class pole vaulter who once ate worm green beans and maggoty mashed potatoes on the reality TV program “Fear Factor” has shared her athletic expertise with a group of about seven Payson High School track and field team members.

April Steiner Bennett did so July 17 on PHS track where Longhorn pole-vaulting coach Bo Althoff, the school record-holder, joined her in the session.

Steiner Bennett, a friend of Althoff’s, called him last week to ask if she might come to cooler weather in Payson, from her Valley-area home, to work out and practice her pole vaulting craft.

“I told her ‘sure, come on up,’” Althoff said.

After Steiner Bennett received the OK to come to Payson, Althoff issued an invitation to PHS pole vaulters to join in on the workout to see if they could pick up tips from Steiner Bennett, who was eighth in the 2008 Olympic Games and second at the Olympic Trials.

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April Steiner Bennett, a world-class pole vaulter, shared her athletic expertise July 17 with a group of PHS track and field team members including Tanner Drake. Longhorn pole-vaulting coach Bo Althoff joined his friend Steiner Bennett for the lesson.

Steiner Bennett is also a three-time NCAA indoor All-American, was fifth at the 2004 Olympic Trials, silver medalist at the 2007 Pan-Am Games and sixth at the 2005 USA Outdoors championships.

Her personal best in the pole vault is 15 feet, 2.25 inches, a height she cleared in 2008 in Norman, Okla.

While training for the 2004 Olympics, Steiner Bennett was asked to appear on “Fear Factor.” At first, she declined deciding to focus on preparing for the Olympics.

But following the Olympics, she accepted the invitation and was the winner earning prize money of $50,000, which she used to pay training expenses.

Steiner Bennett, a Mesa native, attended Mountain View High School and later Paradise Valley Community College.

Following her stint at PVCC, she attended the University of Arkansas where she became the first woman in the SEC to clear 13 feet indoors.

Currently Steiner Bennett is active in the USATF’s Be A Champion program mentoring younger athletes.

She also is volunteer assistant coach at Arkansas and a physical education teacher Helstern Middle School in Springdale, Ark.

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