VERMILLION, S.D. (KELO) — Fans in Vermillion are looking forward to watching former USD pole vaulter, Chris Nilsen, compete in the Olympics tonight in the qualification round.
“Chris obviously did amazing things here at USD, so everyone is really excited, you know, to support him and cheer him on at the highest level and for team USA, so it’s really cool,” Leo’s Sports Bar & Grill server Sydney Siegel said.
Former teammate and friend of Nilsen, Ethan Bray, says Nilsen always had it in him.
“He came in as a freshman as a mid 18-footer and then he just only got better, improving every year and stuff like that and I always knew he had it in him. He was always a competitor, he hated losing, so just competed really well at the trials and that set him up perfectly,” he said.
Bray says he has been keeping up with Nilsen about what things are like in Toyko.
“The regulations are strict with COVID and everything like that. It’s what he expected, but it’s not fun by any means having to go back to all those really strict regulations and rules,” Bray said.
Leo’s Sports Bar & Grill is hosting a party to watch Nilsen compete.
“We know that there’s a lot of track kids that are planning to come watch and a lot of families, you know, USD is really big about supporting each other here in Vermillion. Like even those that aren’t a part of the university that just live in Verm come down a lot to watch,” Siegel said.
“I’ll be at Leo’s. I’m super excited that they were going to stream the pole vault and show Chris, so it’s going to be really cool getting to go there and watch him,” Bray said.
Nilsen’s first jump is Friday night at 7:40 p.m. CDT. If he qualifies, he will compete in the finals on August 3.