Kansas Relays — Bradford Highest Jayhawk Vaulter Ever

Prize frosh Zach Bradford PRed 3 times in erasing an ancient school record. (JEFF & LAURA JACOBSEN/KANSAS ATHLETICS)

LAWRENCE, KANSAS, April 18-20—Patience is not a virtue regularly exhibited by youth, whose mantra is typically, “I want it now, if not before.” Apparently, prize Kansas frosh Zach Bradford came to Lawrence willing to be patient and wait for the school record. And other awards. “I thought, maybe by my senior year,” he said after a 3-PR day at the 92nd Kansas Relays. “I didn’t think it would come my first year.”

But it did and Jeff Buckingham’s reign—which began with an 18-10¾ (5.76) back in ’83—ended abruptly. Bradford’s initial PR came on a first-try clearance of 18-6½ (5.65). A PR 18-8¾ (5.71) needed a pair of attempts. Then Bradford and coach Tom Hays had the bar raised to 5.77 (18-11). “We had moved to a longer approach,” explained Hays, who has coached 4 NCAA champions, “from 16 steps to 18. Maybe 14-feet longer. And the wind was a benefit—it was breezy but not gusty. A consistent wind.”

As Bradford sped down the runway on his second try at 18-11 (5.77), the crowd was clapping in unison—urging him over. And he complied, a solid no-touch arch with one leg flayed slightly. He extended his arms happily on the flight down to the pit. Laid there for a few seconds and then celebrated. “It was a clean vault,” he said. “But the promising thing is that my attempt at 5.80 [19-¼] may have been better technically. But I was pretty tired.” He made only one try there, his 12th overall, and slid his poles into the bag.

His 8 heights cleared here took 11 attempts, but Bradford has a habit of not missing a bar until he goes out. At last year’s USATF Junior & U20 Worlds and this year’s NCAA indoor, he had a clean slate through his final height. No misses until then: “When I go to a meet, I come to show!”

The outdoor season hadn’t been kind to him—until his afternoon at Rock Chalk Park. Bradford had a no-height at the Texas Relays and some poor vaults at Baton Rouge. “I just wanted some good vaults,” he explained. “My mind was certainly in a better place than before. I did have a couple of misses this time, but it just took some minor adjustments at the box and getting onto the pole.”

You might say that Zach has come by his vaulting talents genetically. His dad was a 14-6 vaulter in high school and his brother Steven cleared 15-3 at North Central. But it was at a younger age that his brother really prompted Zach. Big brother joined a pole vaulting club, and so did little brother. Zach cleared 5-6 in the 5th grade and progressed until he topped 18-2½ (5.55) as a high school senior. Altogether he won 3 Illinois prep titles for Bloomington High.

The future is sunny, he says: “I’m vaulting with a 5m pole and I want to move up to a 5.10 pole and move my grip up some—probably to 12-6 or 13. Then I can move my take-off point to 13-6 or 14. I hope to get some good vaults next weekend at Arkansas—just to prove that KU’s 5.77 wasn’t a fluke.”

Kansas alum Mason Finley put together a nice series of 216-9, 218-5, 205-11, f, f, 220-3 (66.06, 66.59, 62.77, f, f, 67.13) in the discus. His final mark, his best since his bronze-medal performance at the ’17 World Champs, claimed the yearly U.S. lead.


KANSAS RELAYS MEN’S RESULTS

Lawrence, Kansas, April 18-20—

(4/18—HT; 4/19—TJ, DT)

100(2.8): 1. Tavarius Wright (ButCC) 10.19w; 2. ***Don’Drea Swint (Coffey) 10.28w.

200(3.2): 1. **Raymone Campbell’ (Linc) 20.50w; 2. **Kundai Maguranyanga’ (Drake) 20.56w; 3. *Javan Gray’ (Linc) 20.56w.

800: 1. *Bryce Hoppel (Ks) 1:49.10.

110H(4.8): 1. ***Cordell Tinch (Ks) 13.71w.

400H: 1. Austin Corley (Wich) 50.90 PR.

Field Events

PV: 1. ***Zach Bradford (Ks) 18-11 (5.77) PR (17-2¾, 17-6½ [2], 17-10½, 18-2½, 18-4½, 18-6½ PR, 18-8¾ PR [2], 18-11 [2], 19-¼ [xp]) (5.25, 5.35 [2], 5.45, 5.55, 5.60, 5.65, 5.71 [2], 5.77 [2], 5.80 [xp]);

2. Jake Albright (unat) 17-10½ (5.45).

LJ: 1. **Dodley Thermitus (Coffey) 25-11w (7.90); 2. ***Carey McLeod’ (Emp) 25-3¼w (7.70).

TJ: 1. Jaden Purnell (OR) 52-8 (16.05) PR; 2. **Ryan Brown’ (Linc) 52-7¼w (16.03) (51-11¾/15.84).

SP: 1. Kord Ferguson (Al) 63-6¼ (19.36).

DT: 1. Mason Finley (Nik) 220-3 (67.13) (AL) (216-9, 218-5, 205-11, f, f, 220-3) (66.06, 66.59, 62.77, f, f, 67.13);

2. Rodney Brown (unat) 209-1 (63.73); 3. Nick Percy’ (GB) 203-8 (62.09); 4. Ferguson 199-7 (60.85); 5. **Burger Lambrechts’ (Nb) 188-5 (57.43) PR; 6. Carlos Davis (Nb) 187-11 (57.29).

HT: 1. *Gleb Dudarev’ (Ks) 237-2 (72.29).

JT: 1. Aaron True (Wich) 247-1 (75.33).

KANSAS RELAYS WOMEN’S RESULTS

(4/19—PV, TJ)

100(3.1): 1. Sydney Conley (unat) 11.41w; 2. Christina Clemons (adi) 11.45w; 3. A’Keyla Mitchell (unat) 11.47w.

200(2.8): 1. Mitchell 22.81w; 2. *Rene Medley’ (Linc) 23.10w; 3. *Jedah Caldwell (Ks) 23.32w.

400: 1. Renea Ambersley’ (Linc) 53.45.

4 x 400: 1. Lincoln 3:39.53; 2. Kansas 3:39.59.

PV: 1. Alexis Romero (Ks) 13-10½ (4.23) PR.

LJ: 1. Andrea Guebelle (unat) 20-5¼w (6.23).

TJ: 1. ***Grace Chinonyelum’ (CloudC) 43-3¼w (13.19).

DT: 1. Whitney Ashley (unat) 194-1 (59.17); 2. **Alexandra Emilianov’ (Ks) 184-5 (56.21) PR.

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