UNDEFEATED AGAINST Americans for the past 2 years, Vashti Cunningham continued her reign as national champion, jumping 6-5 (1.96) to win her third straight outdoor national title to go with the last 4 indoor crowns. Runner-up Inika McPherson, the last American to defeat Cunningham (on the countback at the ’17 WC), scored a seasonal best to join Cunningham as the only Americans to own the WC qualifying height of 6-4¼ (1.94).
The third height of the day, 6-1¼ (1.86), winnowed the field to 4 as Cunningham cleared on her first jump, as did Ty Townsend (née Butts) and Jelena Rowe. McPherson opened at this height, but stood 2nd after needing two attempts to clear. With the bar inching up to 6-2¼ (1.89), the first three were settled as Cunningham, McPherson and Townsend cleared on first jumps, while Rowe missed three times.
Cunningham, this month’s interview subject, maintained her clean slate at 6-3½ (1.92), clearing on her first jump while McPherson needed a pair of tries and Townsend three to move on to 6-4¼ (1.94), the WC standard. McPherson, jumping first, cleared on her first attempt, getting her Doha Q. With the pressure now on, Cunningham cleared on her first jump to maintain her lead, while Townsend missed three times. Townsend became the only one in the competition to PR, and now has an outside chance of getting to Doha as an IAAF field-filler.
Raising the bar to 6-5 (1.96) saw the end of McPherson’s day, as she registered 3 misses. Cunningham, again clearing on first attempt, extended her winning streak in national championships to 6, then took one try at a 1cm PR 6-7 (2.01). After her only miss of the day, she stopped jumping, content to let the lifetime best come on another occasion.
Asked about the importance of being national champion, Cunningham responded, ““It’s becoming more significant. I love coming to the U.S. events and seeing all of the athletes. I feel so comfortable and I feel the love. I get to see my people in the hotels before, I get to walk around with them and see them compete and do great. It’s becoming something that I hold close to my heart, coming to a USA event.”
USATF WOMEN’S HIGH JUMP RESULTS
1. Vashti Cunningham (Nik) 6-5 (1.96);
2. Inika McPherson (unat) 6-4¼ (1.94);
3. Ty Townsend (née Butts) (unat) 6-3½ (1.92) PR;
4. Jelena Rowe (NvGaz) 6-1¼ (1.86);
=5. Nicole Greene (NC) 6-0 (1.83);
=5. Amina Smith (Shore) 6-0;
7. Liz Evans (unat) 6-0);
8. Michelle Spires (USAF) 6-0;
9. Zarriea Willis (TxT) 6-0;
10. Amber Melville (unat) 5-10 (1.78);
=11. Liz Patterson (SCruzTC) 5-10);
=11. Juanita Webster-Freeman (SBTC) 5-10;
… nh—Stephanie Ahrens (unat), Logan Boss (unat), Shaina Burns (unat), Mady Fagan (Ga), Anna Malizia (Penn), Peyton Wade (unat).