IT WAS HER TURN. Tori Hoggard had watched twin sister Lexi Jacobus win 4 NCAA titles over the years. Hoggard, however, had never finished higher than her 2nd at the ’18 Indoor. “I just came in today wanting to have fun,” she said. That she did, with first-attempt clearances at 13-9¼ (4.20), 14-3¼ (4.35) and 14-7¼ (4.45). After that last height, she found herself in a tie with favored 2-time defender Olivia Gruver of Washington, while Indoor runner-up Bonnie Draxler of San Diego State also cleared, along with Virginia’s Bridget Guy. Former winner Jacobus, however, only made 13-9¼ (4.20) before going out at the next height.
The bar moved to 14-9½ (4.51) and Draxler applied the pressure with a perfect first-attempt make, equaling her outdoor PR. Gruver, Hoggard and Guy all followed with misses. On the second runthrough, Hoggard bumped the bar on the way down but it stayed on, allowing her to stake a claim to 2nd. Both Gruver and Guy would tally three misses.
Then the bar went to 14-11½ (4.56). Hoggard had jumped higher than that three times in her career, all indoors. Draxler had cleared the setting only once, at the NCAA Indoor 3 months ago. For both it would be an outdoor PR. Both missed their first attempts; then Draxler missed her second. Hoggard cleared, but was not assured of victory until Draxler tried one more time. When she failed to clear, Hoggard knew she had finally done it.
Finishing up just before midnight, the first-time champion took two tries at 15-3 (4.65)—one a bailout, the other promising—and then celebrated. “It’s my last NCAA Championships and I’m a senior,” said the 22-year-old former Miss Weeks. “I told myself just go have fun and whatever happens, happens and I think that played to my advantage. I went in with calm nerves, and when I found out I won, it was a flow of emotions. I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time. Obviously, I’ve seen Lexi do it 4 times [indoor ’16, ’18, ’19; outdoors ’16], and I was just really excited to have my chance. I’m really emotional right now.” Of their relationship, she said, “We’re twin sisters, and I expect myself to be right there with her, but she’s always been a little bit ahead of me, but that’s honestly just encouraged me. She’s always set the bar so high for me to strive for since we started pole vaulting. To always have her there next to me, especially tonight, having her there to cheer me on was a really special moment.”
NCAA WOMEN’S POLE VAULT RESULTS
1. Tori Hoggard (Ar) 14-11½ (4.56) outdoor PR (3, 6 NCAA) (also 14-9½/ 4.51—x, =10 NCAA);
2. Bonnie Draxler (SDi) 14-9½ (4.51) =outdoor PR (5, =10 NCAA);
3. Olivia Gruver (Wa) 14-7¼ (4.45);
4. Bridget Guy (Va) 14-7¼ (4.45) (=7, x NCAA);
5. Lucy Bryan’ (Akr) 14-3¼ (4.35);
6. Meagan Gray (Ok) 14-3¼ PR;
7. *Helen Falda’ (SD) 14-3¼;
8. *Kristen Denk (Vand) 14-3¼;
=9. Desiree Freier (Ar) 13-9¼ (4.20);
=9. Maddie Gardner (WV) 13-9¼;
=9. Elleyse Garrett (UCLA) 13-9¼;
=9. Lexi Jacobus (Ar) 13-9¼;
=9. Madison Pecot (SFA) 13-9¼;
=14. **Reagan Darbonne (NWnLa) 13-9¼ PR;
=14. Rebekah Markel (Tul) 13-9¼;
=16. ***Nastassja Campbell (SFA) 13-9¼;
=16. Lindsey Murray (Ms) 13-9¼;
=16. *Chinne Okoronkwo (TxT) 13-9¼;
=19. **Gabriela Leon (Louis) 13-3½ (4.05);
=19. Nati Sheppard (Duke) 13-3½;
=19. *Kayla Smith (Ga) 13-3½;
22. **Hannah Jefcoat (Tn) 13-3½;
23. *Kaitlyn Merritt (Stan) 13-3½;
… nh—Sara McKeeman (OhSt).
(best-ever mark-for-NCAA-place: =3, 4, 7–8)