The Battle For No. 1 In U.S. Men’s Vaultdom

Andrew Irwin briefly claimed the yearly world lead with his PR 19-3½ (5.88). (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

ON THE LAST WEEKEND of January Mondo Duplantis briefly took the yearly world lead in the vault, clearing 19-1½ (5.83) at the Razorback Invitational (January 25) to grab a share of =No. 3 on the all-time collegiate indoor list. Later in the day the prize LSU frosh was tied by Akron senior Matt Ludwig, who joined the 19-foot club in the Akron–Kent State dual. Their reign atop the charts lasted until the next day, as pro star Sam Kendricks raised it by a centimeter to 19-2 (5.84) in Paris. At mid-week, Poland’s Piotr Lisek, jumping in Cottbus, Germany (January 30), added another centimeter with his 19-2¼ (5.85). On Friday (February 1) Kendricks was in Berlin and reclaimed the lead with a 19-2¾ (5.86).

But news travels fast in the modern world, so when the Bayou Bengal Invitational cranked up a few hours later, Mondo had a new target: 19-3 (5.87). He was successful on his second attempt, becoming the No. 2 collegian ever (with the No. 4 performance). He used a longer approach, going from 18 steps to 20.

“Because it wasn’t an NCAA meet or a championship meet, we focused on the newer approach to be able to jump 19-3,” he told Sheldon Mickles of the Baton Rouge Advocate. “It was amazing to do that in front of my family and a lot of friends, so the world leader was the cherry on top. It was my first time in an LSU uniform in front of the home crowd. It always seemed so far away, so it was a dream-come-true.” He ended his day by going after a Collegiate Record 19-5 (5.92), but three attempts weren’t enough.

A week later, it was back to Arkansas for the Tyson Invitational (February 8) where Andrew Irwin of the Arkansas Vault Club took a loaded vault competition by raising his PR by a centimeter to 19-3½ (5.88). That moved him to No. 7 on the all-time U.S. indoor list and gave him the world lead. Briefly. He beat a solid collegiate field that included NCAA champ Chris Nilsen of South Dakota at 18-8¾ (5.71), Kansas frosh Zach Bradford 18-5½ (5.63) in 3rd and Devin King of Southeastern Louisiana in 4th at 18-5½. Ludwig and Baylor frosh KC Lightfoot tied for 5th at 18-1¾ (5.53), the same height as 7th-placer Hussain Al-Hizam of Kansas, the reigning NCAA indoor champ. Irwin’s leader lasted less than 24 hours before Kendricks topped it in Rouen, France, with his 19-4¼ (5.90). “Fun while it lasted lol,” tweeted Irwin.

Mondo took a week off, then vaulted in the LSU Twilight (February 15), clearing 18-7½ (5.68) on his first attempt before missing at a Collegiate Record 19-5 (5.92). □

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