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MU seniors bring competitive bond to Big 12 Track & Field Championships

Tuesday, May 10, 2011 | 6:31 p.m. CDT; updated 7:13 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Missouri pole vaulter Brian Hancock prepares for a practice run on Wednesday at Walton Stadium. Although Hancock is shorter than other pole vaulters, Hancock said he makes up for height with technique and speed.

COLUMBIA — Missouri seniors Chris Holly, Brian Hancock and Lars Rise don't have a lot in common.

Holly is a thrower from Topeka, Kan. Hancock is a jumper from Monroe City. Rise is a decathlete from Norway.

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But they do share a bond.

It is not unusual to see the three men cheering each other on at Missouri track meets.

"Every meet you see one guy go big and you think, man , I gotta top him," Hancock said. "We're cheering each other on — but trying to top each other, too."

Missouri coach Brett Halter said he can see why they are so interested in each other's success.

"People that invest greatly, deeply and share the same passion and vision flock together," Halter said. "In a sport like track where there's a large array of disciplines and body types, they can all have a mutual respect of what that person is trying to accomplish."

What all three are trying to accomplish this weekend is bringing home Big 12 Conference titles for themselves, and they all seem to have a chance.

Holly has won a championship before. He won the National Junior College hammer throw championship in 2009 while he was at Neosho County Community College in Chanute, Kan.

"That was a little different," Holly said. "In junior college, normal freshman were throwing about 50 meters, but I was throwing 58 meters."

Holly's best throw of the season in the hammer throw (63.32 meters) ranks second in the Big 12 behind Oklahoma senior K.P. Singh (66.7 meters).

At the Big 12 Indoor Championships in February, Holly finished second behind Singh, who is also the defending Big 12 outdoor champion, after his 65.69-meter throw won the title at last season's championship, which was hosted by Missouri.

"Last year he beat me in my place, so I tell him, 'I'm going to beat you in your place this year,'" Holly said.

Hancock also has a friendly rivalry with the competitor he is chasing. Kansas senior Scott Jordan has the best pole vault jump in the conference so far this season at 18 feet.

"I started jumping against him since I was a junior in high school," Hancock said. "He's from the state of Georgia, but we'd meet at national meets all over the country. It was always just a battle to see who was going to jump 17 that day."

Hancock has the second best jump of the season in the conference, a 17-7 in April at the Tom Botts Invitational. He placed fourth at the Big 12 Indoor Championships, but will get one last shot to top Jordan this weekend.

"It's one of my favorite meets," Hancock said. "It's a lot of fun. There's always going to be guys in there that'll jump crazy high every year. I like being a part of that and being one of those guys."

Rise is another one of those guys.

Rise placed second in the heptathlon at the Big 12 Indoor Championships, but the decathlon, an event only for the outdoor season, is an even stronger event for him.

Rise set a personal best score of 7,770 in the decathlon in April at the California Invitational Multi-Events. That score stands as the top score of any Big 12 decathlete this season.

"Lars is special," Halter said. "He's a future Olympian for Norway."

This weekend, the three seniors will get to cheer each other again at the Big 12 meet.

"You kind of feed off each other, especially at big meets because it's big competition for all of us," Hancock said. "There's no guaranteed wins at any event in the Big 12. We're all fighting for that Big 12 championship."


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