AS MOST ANTICIPATED, Chris Nilsen prevailed, winning with three first-attempt clearances in defending his national title.
That may have been the only predictable part of a competition that began with the news that 2-time reigning world champion Sam Kendricks —owner of a Wild Card — wouldn’t start.
The winning height of 18-8¼ (5.70) was surprisingly low, but Nilsen’s last remaining challenger was even more eye-opening in unheralded Luke Winder. And the meet ended with a rare administrative jumpoff for the third spot.
Seven of the 16 starters owned the WC standard of 19-¼ (5.80), and all were among the 14 who advanced after the opening height of 18-½ (5.50).
One casualty came at 18-4½ (5.60), a height that claimed NCAA runner-up Clayton Fritsch, who owned the WC standard.
The real carnage came at 18-8¼ (5.70), where Zach McWhorter, Matt Ludwig, Jacob Wooten, Andrew Irwin and KC Lightfoot — all with the WC standard — were among the 7 ending their day. Lightfoot and Ludwig were members of last year’s Olympic team with Nilsen.
That left two: Nilsen, with a clean record and Winder, who had cleared his second-straight bar with a third-attempt make.
Both passed 18-10¼ (5.75), Winder’s PR, for a chance at 19-¼ (5.80). Neither was able to clear, although Winder’s first and Nilsen’s final attempt were close.
Still, competition continued as there was a tie for 3rd between Wooten and Irwin. The rules only require tie-breaking for 1st, but for administrative purposes of ascertaining national-team priority they continued on with Irwin winning with a 18-8¼ (5.70) that won’t appear on any lists.
However, with Winder lacking both a Q-standard and a high WA ranking, it appears that Irwin and Wooten will both be on the team with Nilsen and Kendricks.
“The goal today was to come in and make the team,” Nilsen said. The Olympic silver medalist said he’s hoping for a top-5 finish at the upcoming Worlds. “I’ve got to clean up some stuff in my technique and I got to get healthy and eat good food.”
MEN’S POLE VAULT RESULTS
1. Chris Nilsen (Nik) 18-8¼ (5.70);
2. Luke Winder (unat) 18-8¼;
=3. Andrew Irwin (unat) 18-4½ (5.60);
=3. Jacob Wooten (unat) 18-4½;
=5. KC Lightfoot (Puma) 18-4½;
=5. Matt Ludwig (unat) 18-4½;
=7. Zach Bradford (Ks) 18-4½;
=7. Tray Oates (unat) 18-4½;
9. Zach McWhorter (BYU) 18-4½; 10. tie, Nathan Richartz (Tracksm) & Keaton Daniel (Ky) 18-½ (5.50); 12. Scott Houston (Shore) 18-½; 13. tie, Clayton Fritsch (SHous) & Austin Miller (Vaulth) 18-½;… nh— Deakin Volz (unat), Carson Waters (unat).