University of Southern Maine junior Ben Drummey, of Biddeford, won his second straight NCAA Division III title in the pole vault, clearing 16 feet, 6 3/4 inches. Photo courtesy University of Southern Maine

Ben Drummey knew if he didn’t regain trust in the shoulder he injured a year ago at the NCAA Division III indoor track and field championships, he had no shot of winning his second straight national title in the pole vault.

A University of Southern Maine junior and Biddeford native, Drummey spent the regular season working back from that injury. By the time he reached the Little East Conference and New England Division III championships, Drummey felt strong. When he arrived at the NCAA Division III championship in Birmingham, Alabama, last week, Drummey was ready.

“I was trusting my shoulder. I was feeling like my old self,” Drummey said.

Seeded 11th, Drummey cleared 16 feet, 6 3/4 inches on his first try. At 16-8 1/4, both Drummey and Eli Tranel of Wisconsin-Osh Kosh failed to clear the bar, giving Drummey the national title based on his performance at previous heights. It was the same height at which Drummey won the national title in 2022.

A year ago at nationals in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Drummey suffered a left shoulder subluxation (a partial dislocation) when he tried to clear 16-8 1/4, after he had completed the vault that won him the national title. The injury prevented Drummey from competing in the spring, where he had placed third in the NCAA outdoor championships in 2021 as a freshman.

“He’s fast, strong, and athletic. His freshman year, Ben went over 17 (feet),” said USM track and field coach Rob Whitten. “Obviously, having his background in the pole vault, he has a leg up.”


Drummey’s vaulting coach is his father, Mike Drummey, who has coached USM vaulters for 20 years and was a Division II national champion indoors and outdoors in 1995 while competing for Southern Connecticut.

“Nobody knows my (vaults) like he does,” Drummey said of his father. “He typically knows what might be causing an issue. We get along very well.”

For much of his high school vaulting career, Drummey battled Thornton Academy’s Travis Snyder, who is now a member of the track and field team at Division I Connecticut.

“I was always chasing (Snyder), but it was great to have someone to look up to,” Drummey said.

As a senior in 2020, Drummey won the Class A indoor pole vault title with a jump of 16 feet. The spring season was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, as Drummey trained as much as he could on his own. The lack of a spring season his senior year didn’t set Drummey back. At his first collegiate meet, a dual meet at home against Husson, he cleared 16-8 1/4, setting the USM record as well as the Costello Sports Complex record, breaking the 16-6 3/4 set by Snyder in 2019.

Drummey’s vaulting mojo gradually began to return as this indoor season wore on. He won the Little East Conference title on Feb. 18 with a vault of 16-2, setting a conference record. On Feb. 24 at the New England Division III championship in Boston, Drummey took the title with a vault of 16 feet, 1/2-inch. Because he spent so much of the season working back from his injury, Drummey said he was seeded deceptively low at the national championships.


With USM on spring break, Drummey has a little time off before the spring outdoor season begins with a meet at Bates College on April 1. The conference championship is April 29 at UMass-Dartmouth, and the New England championships are May 5-6 at Springfield College. Everything Drummey does this spring will be geared toward having him vaulting his best at the national championships, which will be in Rochester, New York, May 25-27.

Drummey and Whitten think vaulting 17 feet by the end of the season is a realistic goal.

“It’s nothing we haven’t done before,” Whitten said.

PORTLAND’S JAIDYN APPEL, a senior at Tufts, won the women’s high jump at the NCAA Division III track and field championships for the second consecutive year.

Appel repeated as national champion with a jump of 5-8 3/4. Appel was the top seed in the event. Appel overcame what she thought was a slow start in her first four jumps to take the win.

“My first attempts at lower heights were barely making it over, and especially when I had a miss at 1.69 meters, which I know I can clear even in practice. I knew I had to step it up,” Appel said in a Tufts press release. “I refocused and from there was able to basically turn my brain off and watch my body do what I know it can do automatically.”

As a Portland High senior in 2019, Appel placed second in the high jump at both the Class A indoor and outdoor track and field championships.

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