College Track and Field: Harmer handling lack of spring season in stride

Former Brainerd Warrior and current University of Minnesota Duluth pole vaulter Cami Harmer soars over the crossbar during a meet earlier this season. University of Minnesota Duluth

Cami Harmer said being a college athlete is more about maintaining focus than anything else.

The Brainerd graduate is a sophomore pole vaulter for the University of Minnesota, Duluth Bulldogs. More important to Harmer is her biochemistry and biology majors. She’s already decided she’ll graduate in three and a half years and so next season will likely be her last season competing. That makes the lack of a sophomore outdoor season for Harmer and her fellow collegiate athletes harder to swallow. At least when she learned the NCAA canceled the remainder of the spring season because of COVID-19 she was in a nice place.

“I was actually on spring break in Florida, I was visiting my grandma in Naples, Fla., and I was on the beach,” Harmer said. “So it wasn’t a bad place to be, but ultimately when I heard the news it was quite heartbreaking. It wasn’t for me, but mostly my teammates who are seniors and won’t get the chance to come back and compete for UMD again.

“Obviously for me, it’s not ideal either, but I was just thinking more about my teammates at that time.”

Harmer finished ninth at the NSIC Indoor championship Feb. 28-29 at Mankato. The sophomore went 10-foot-2.75 to finish one spot out of the top eight and earning team points in what would turn out to be the final meet of the season.


It was missing the podium by one spot that spurred her goals for the outdoor season.

“My goals were to make the podium at the NSIC Outdoor Championships,” Harmer said. “I was one place away from making the podium for the indoor season, which was our last meet. That was late February before everything started happening. I was kind of bummed after missing that opportunity for the indoor season. I was ready to get back to work and hopefully reach that goal for the outdoor season in May.”

The meet before on Feb. 15, also at Mankato, Harmer placed fifth with a 10-6 to score four team points for the Bulldogs.

That was a season-high for Harmer, who also reached that height while at Brainerd to land in a tie for second all-time with former teammate Eden Worden in the Warrior Hall of Fame.

“I did want to reach that 10-6 again because last year was a big adjustment year as it is for most people who come into college sports,” Harmer said. “Freshman year you’re just trying to get used to everything and trying to maintain. So after the indoor season, I had that podium spot as a goal so I could score for my team, but also I had 11-0 in my mind.

“I was vaulting a lot better this year than I was last year. I’m not sure if it was because of my offseason training. I trained a lot harder last summer. Or if it was because I knew what to expect coming in, but overall, I was more consistently hitting those higher 9-feet and 10-feet marks throughout the season. It was a shaky season last year. I’m so glad I was able to pull myself out of that.”

Harmer said breaking bad habits has been her focus her first two seasons from a technical standpoint. She compared pole vaulting to gymnastics with the need for a perfect takeoff, perfect swing, perfect invert and everything else every time. She’s also working on getting faster and stronger. Because of the COVID-19 restrictions, Harmer has turned her focus to core strength. With no access to weight lifting and vaulting equipment, Harmer said cardiovascular and her core are the easiest things to take care of in her current situation.

“I’m making the best of it,” Harmer said. “I’m basically treating this like the offseason right now. I’m just focused on training and endurance. Obviously, I would love to be in the weight room, but that will have to wait. This just feels like summer. I’m certainly not putting the hours in as I would with the lifting sessions and then practice. It’s definitely an adjustment.”


Harmer said the biggest grind currently is managing all of her classes. She wants to graduate early so she can attend physician assistant school. She said not having a sport to help her maintain focus and a routine has been the hardest part of this spring.

“That’s probably the biggest thing I’ve taken away from this experience is how important athletics in college is to me,” Harmer said. “It gives me structure. It forces me to have a work ethic to get things done on time. You’re balancing practice, weights, classes and labs and homework, obviously, too. I’m beyond grateful that I got this opportunity to be in college athletics because of that. It makes me a harder worker, not only in sports, but also in school. That will translate into my professional career and life after that so I’m very thankful. Track is a year-round sport so I’m always constantly having to balance those things.”

Cami Harmer

Year: Sophomore

School: University of Minnesota Duluth

Sport: Track and Field

Event: Pole vaulting


High school: Brainerd

Parents: Bart and Nicole Harmer

Cami Harmer

Covering the Brainerd lakes area sports scene for the past 23 years.
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