Want to know why I never listed pole vault among my middle school track and field events? Yes, it was partly because I was overweight and had zero chance of sailing over the crossbar without a trampoline, but the real reason was fear. And the existential fear of landing on top of that carbon fiber pole and impaling myself is exactly what happened to BYU pole vaulter Zach McWhorter.
This wasn't simply a Final Destination premonition. Oh no. McWhorter was in a training session with the BYU Cougars outdoor track & field season just a few weeks away. Everything was going smoothly from the take-off until he cleared the crossbar, but then, the Springdale, Arkansas native landed square on top of his vaulting pole, and the fiberglass tip pierced right through his nutsack before the longest fall of his life onto the landing area.
McWhorter posted the spine-tingling video to his TikTok account with the caption, "That one time the pole went through my nuts." He told BuzzFeed in an interview that he needed 18 stitches to heal his wounds, adding "there is nothing wrong with my testicles, just a scar. One day, we'll find out if they function or not..."
The 21-year-old BYU athlete also offered the single-most horrifying quote I've ever heard, and honestly, will haunt me when I lay down to sleep tonight.
"I could see right through my scrotum," he said.
WARNING: The following video contains a graphic injury.
Pole Vaulter Lands on Pole
Just think. McWhorter is a legitimate NCAA-caliber pole vaulter. His father holds the 10th-best mark in BYU Cougars history. Zach is a four-time high school state champion who holds the Arkansas Class 7A state record and was the USATF National Champion in his age bracket back in 2016. Imagine what would've happened if he DIDN'T know what he was doing?
What did he learn from this terrifying ordeal? "Don't free ball" and "always put a cap on the end of the pole," he told BuzzFeed.
Needless to say, one ball-busting video is enough to know that I, my unborn children, and all 23 of my unborn grandchildren will never be pole vaulting if this is a consequence.
This article was originally published February 20, 2020. We're still hurt about it...
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