by Dave Hunter
Nageotte’s Excellent Adventure
Day 3 of the ’18 indoor nationals is a day that Katie Nageotte will never forget.
The Ashland alum had the type of pole vault competition— 3 PRs plus an equal—that few could ever match and most could only dream about.
In one of the most important competitions of her young career, the 26-year-old Ohio native made 8 consecutive first-attempt clearances as she won her first USATF title.
She topped out at a worldleading 16-1¼ (4.91), becoming only the seventh in world history (fourth American) to clear 16-feet, indoors or out.
She is now ranked No. 4 on the all-time indoor world list, and took three noble, albeit unsuccessful, attempts—her only misses of the day—at what would have been a WR clearance of 16-6½ (5.04)
Runner-up Sandi Morris, who will join Nageotte at the World Indoor, was in awe of the former Div. II star’s performance.
“She is another young American pole-vaulter coming up in the ranks and making it onto the world stage,” declared the outdoor AR holder. “I think it is long overdue for Katie. She’s been fighting really hard for that.”
Nageotte credited the businesslike approach she has recently incorporated into her competition as a primary driver behind her spectacular performance.
“I really just focused on coming out and executing,” she explained. “We didn’t practice. We just stayed calm. I am really proud of myself that I didn’t let my emotions get the better of me and I didn’t get all excited.” The New York AC standout stayed occupied on the nuts and bolts of perfect execution:
“It was just ‘Stay calm. Hit my cues. And focus on just three things throughout the whole competition.’ And I stayed on the same poles pretty much the whole competition until we got up to the higher bars.”
Nageotte also quickly identifies the progress she has made since she began working with American vault legend Brad Walker as a major contributor to her success over the past year. “It was just a matter of time, putting it together in the right meet. I was ready for this.”
A late-bloomer who didn’t make the U.S. Rankings until ’14, the year after she finished her collegiate eligibility, she debuted in the World Rankings last year as No. 6.
The new yearly world leader acknowledged the other-worldly Albuquerque atmosphere that accompanied her clean run of 8 first-attempt clearances in a row.
“It didn’t feel real. It still doesn’t feel real,” she told the press. “And even here it still doesn’t feel like I jumped 16- feet like I did. I was just like, ‘Get the next bar; get the next bar.’ I was staying focused. I was really trying not to let the numbers get into my head.”
Many world-class vaulters likely dream about one day being able to undertake a competitive vault at a WR height: very few ever get that opportunity.
But Nageotte actually faced that opportunity as the final day of competition was drawing to a close.
“I was close, but none of them really would have stayed,” she reflected on her attempts at the daunting 5.04.
“I am proud of myself that I really gave it three good attempts and I blew through on my last attempt on the biggest pole that I’ve ever been on.”
She added with a smile, “So that was kind of cool. I am so glad that I didn’t just kind of fade out. I gave it three good attempts and was able to really give it a shot.”