IT HAS BEEN just shy of 5 years since Vashti Cunningham last lost to an American — to Inika McPherson in ’17. That didn’t seem likely to change here as Cunningham — still all of 24 years old — came in as the only American with the World Champs Q of 6-5 (1.96), a height she has cleared at least once every year since ’15.
Could at least one more American join her as a WC qualifier? It was possible — both Rachel McCoy and Jelena Rowe cleared 6-5 (1.96) last year, but unfortunately that was about a month before the qualifying period began.
The field of 16 was whittled down to 9 after the opening height of 5-11½ (1.82), with all of the top contenders advancing.
The next height, 6-1½ (1.87) proved more ruthless, with only 4 clearing (all on first attempts) — Cunningham, McCoy and Glenn with clean records, plus McPherson in equaling her seasonal best. Rowe was the most notable casualty, having cleared 6-4¾ (1.95) indoors this year.
No one cleared 6-2¾ (1.90) on first attempt, with Cunningham knocking the bar off with a trail leg. Both she and Glenn got over on second while McCoy needed a third (=SB for Glenn and McCoy). McPherson exited with one close miss.
Cunningham led off at 6-4 (1.93), applying pressure with a first-attempt clearance — the bar stayed up as she grazed it. Glenn and McCoy both missed all three times as they finished in that order and must await potential inclusion via WA’s rankings, where McCoy is well placed.
With Cunningham’s victory secure — her fifth-straight outdoor U.S. title (No. 11 total counting indoors) — she asked for the bar to be raised to 6-6¼ (1.99). After two attempts that weren’t particularly close, she retired with surprisingly her career lowest final clearance in this meet.
“Today went well because I was able to limit my misses early,” she said. “I had one miss, but being able to clear 1.93 on the first attempt was what separated me from the competition. But I know that I have a lot of room that I would like to make up going into Worlds.”
She felt that room for improvement included “getting my mark down, getting my run-in and also my last couple steps when I’m planting so that I can take off correctly and just give myself the best advantage and height that I can.”
WOMEN’S HIGH JUMP RESULTS
1. Vashti Cunningham (NikRB) 6-4 (1.93);
2. Rachel Glenn (SC) 6-2¾ (1.90);
3. Rachel McCoy (unat) 6-2¾;
4. Inika McPherson (Puma) 6-1½ (1.87);
=5. Sanaa Barnes (Vill) 5-11½ (1.82);
=5. Liz Evans (unat) 5-11½;
=5. Nyalaam Jok (Mn) 5-11½;
8. Jelena Rowe (Asics/NvG) 5-11½;
9. Rylee Anderson (Ks) 5-11½;
… nh—Lucy Corbett (MtSt), Charity Griffith (Ball), Nissi Kabongo (SFA), Jenna Rogers (NB), Sidney Sapp (TxT), Amina Smith (Shore), Zarriea Willis (unat).