"I had almost no form," Don Bragg states, recalling his first year at Villanova. "I was still chicken-stepping down the runway. When Elliott saw me, we started almost all over again."
As a promising big man, Bragg has run into an unprecedented problem. Until he came along, the metal poles now used were considered durable. Swinging his 190 pounds up to 15 feet, in the past year Bragg has bent and discarded 11 poles. He has tried American steel and Swedish steel and aluminum. Everything bends. Villanova hopes that a new, reinforced-aluminum pole with a 90,000-pound stress per square inch will hold their big man through this season and the Olympics next November. The target for Bragg and every good vaulter right now is not Melbourne but the U.S. trials this June. It seems hard to believe, but by the pure mathematics of it at least two 15-foot vaulters won't make the team.