THE HIGHEST PREP vaulter ever, Chloe Cunliffe (West, Seattle) has decided to take a pass on collegiate competition and instead enter the pro ranks. The American Junior Record holder is refreshingly open about the rationale behind her decision: “I hate school, so I really wanted to go pro.” It wasn’t a tough call, she says, “Not at all.”
Over the past year Cunliffe put together a historic senior campaign, topped by the highest high school heights ever cleared both indoors (14-9) and out (14-8). She won the Pole Vault Summit, Arcadia, and the New Balance Nationals. In our High School AOY balloting, she finished 3rd. (Continues below)
|1.||14-9i||Chloe Cunliffe (West, Seattle, Washington)||2019|
|3.||14-7½||Lexi Jacobus (Cabot, Arkansas)||2015|
|4.||14-7¼||Desiree Freier (Northwest, Justin, Texas)||2014|
|6.||14-5½||Rachel Baxter (Canyon, Anaheim, California)||2017|
Working with agent Paul Doyle, who also represents her sister, world-class sprinter Hannah, the high-flying 19-year-old is currently sorting through sponsorship offers. She intends to keep working with coaches Pat Licari, who formerly mentored the vaulters at Washington, and her father, Mike Cunliffe.
Staying close to home is important to Cunliffe, who had originally signed a letter of intent with Washington State. “My dad is the only coach that really works for me,” she says. “Plus he’s my dad. I don’t really want to leave him and I don’t want to leave my mom. I love my parents. So they were on board.”
The parental units did require a longterm plan, however. “Obviously I can’t pole vault forever,” Cunliffe explains. “I’m going to massage school in two years. They like my plan.” Sister Hannah, 4 years older, also went pro early, skipping her senior season at Oregon.
With the Olympic Trials looming next summer, Cunliffe says she doesn’t find the prospect of competing with world-class vaulters intimidating. “It’s not scary,” she says. “I’ve always wanted to go pro. I kind of got myself mentally ready while I was in high school. If you have a chance to go pro, you’ve got to be ready. If you want to be a pro athlete, you have to do certain things. I was ready.” ◻︎