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Lenny Padilla | | May 21, 2015

Logo for luck

  Brittany Kallenberger won the national championship in high jump with a mark of 13 feet, 1.5 inches.

ALLENDALE, Mich. -- Brittany Kallenberger has a small sticker of a smiling red mule on her right cheek. 

The sophomore from Central Missouri doesn’t know if donning the school’s logo was good luck or not, but the results don’t lie.

Kallenberger won the national title in the pole vault on Thursday at the 2015 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field National Championships on the campus of Grand Valley State in West Michigan. 

“After I won, I had tears of joy,” said Kallenberger, a native of Lee’s Summit, Missouri. “My coach [Dan Kinsey] came up and gave me a big hug and then it kept hitting me. I was walking around in shock and I thought ‘Wow, that just happened!’ ”

It sure did. 

Kallenberger won with a leap of 13 feet, 1.5 inches (4.00 meters), which tied Lewis senior Rebecca Preisler. But Kallenberger won by clearing on her first attempt.

“Whenever I get really nervous I just give all my trust to God,” Kallenberger said. “I pray for him to be with me in the meet. That helps because it relieves a lot of me nerves. Having my team out there yelling for me helps, too.”

Heather Glenn, a sophomore from Pittsburg State, was third (12-9.5, 3.90m), Bryanna Sudman, a junior from Minnesota State-Mankato, was fourth (12-5.5, 3.80m) and in fifth was Jennifer Schornak, a senior from host Grand Valley State (12-5.5, 3.80m). 

So is the mule sticker Kallenberger’s new good-luck charm?

“My teammate [Erika Kinsey] did it during indoors. I always put it on my leg,” Kallenberger said. “She convinced me to put it on my cheek like she did for the conference meet. I’m very superstitious. If I have my tattoo on my cheek and I do bad, i’m changing. So now it’s on my cheek and I did good and I won nationals. So I think it’s staying on my cheek for good.”

What about getting a real tattoo of the Mule?

“No one on my team has that, but they have UCMTF tattoos. I might have to get one after this,” she said with a laugh. 

Kallenberger, who was seeded third entering the meet, holds the Missouri high school pole vault record with a leap of 12-10 at Lee’s Summit West High School.

She is a two-time state champion in the event. 

But this time, her parents Rodney and Debbie Kallenberger didn’t get to see her compete in person. They were watching the results intently online back home.

“It’s hard not having them here,” Kallenberger said. “They’ve only missed one or two meets in my career. My mom sent me like five texts saying how excited she was for me. But my dad played it off like he didn’t know that I won. He said ‘How’d you do today?’ ”

Kallenberger’s younger sister, Nicole, is an outstanding pole vaulter as well. The junior at Lee’s Summit West finished second at the state meet last year and had a PR of 12-6 earlier this month. 

Now Kallenberger gets to relax for the rest of the week.

“I’m going to cheer on my team and hope that we can repeat what we will did indoors.”

The Mules and the Jennies won the Division II indoor championship this season where Kallenberger finished sixth. 

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