THE TOP 3 FINISHERS were expected to be Sandi Morris, Katie Nageotte and Jenn Suhr. It did play out that way, but bad weather and injuries made the task far from easy for any of them.
Suhr entered the competition having not cleared a bar in competition since April’s Drake Relays, which was followed by a nightmare trip to Europe that resulted in a no-height, injured back, damaged poles and an online death threat. Morris withdrew from the recent London Diamond League due to a bulging disc in her back while Nageotte sprained her ankle two weeks before USAs and was unsure if she would even be able to sprint down the runway.
With rain clouds overhead and the occasional sprinkle of rain coming through, the competition began with a rough start, with nearly half the field failing to clear the opening bar of 14-5¼ (4.40). The rain gradually increased throughout the competition, falling rather heavily at the end.
The 37-year-old Suhr, using a new set of poles that she had never touched before the competition, cleared her opening height of 15-1 (4.60) on her first attempt, but after some missing and passing, she had to clear 15-5 (4.70) on her final attempt to secure a spot on her sixth World Championships team. Suhr also claimed her 14th consecutive top-3 finish at the outdoor nationals. She said her new poles had some slight design changes, and looked forward to getting more time to practice with them before her next competition.
Nageotte cleared every height she attempted on her first attempt with ease until she exited the competition with three misses at 16-¾ (4.90), finishing with a best of 15-9 (4.80). She said, “I think had the rain not thrown a wrench in it for us and we started playing the passing game to beat the rain, I think it could have been a really high jumping competition with all three of us.”
Morris struggled at several heights, but she cleared 15-11 (4.85) while Nageotte passed, and when neither could clear 16-¾ that proved to be enough to give Morris the victory and third straight title. “I always go into competitions focusing on myself,” she said. “With the weather and clouds looming you have to take control of the situation.”
Fourth went to Emily Grove, who achieved a new PR of 15-3 (4.65). Fifth-place finisher Daylis Caballero Vega, a ’12 Olympian for Cuba, defected at the 2013 Drake Relays and was beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to return to Des Moines as American. She took five years off from training while adjusting to life in the United States, and was overjoyed to achieve a new lifetime best of 15-1 (4.60) after only training for one year.
USATF WOMEN’S POLE VAULT
1. Sandi Morris (Nik) 15-11 (4.85);
2. Katie Nageotte (Nik) 15-9 (4.80);
3. Jenn Suhr (adi) 15-5 (4.70);
4. Emily Grove (unat) 15-3 (4.65) PR;
5. Daylis Caballero Vega (unat) 15-1 (4.60) PR;
=6. Kristen Brown (unat) 14-11 (4.55);
=6. Annie Rhodes-Johnigan (unat) 14-11;
8. Olivia Gruver (Wa) 14-11;
=9. Rachel Baxter (VaT) 14-5¼ (4.40);
=9. Bonnie Draxler (unat) 14-5¼;
… nh—Megan Clark (OisNYAC), Chloe Cunliffe (SeatSp) Desiree Freier (Ar), Bridget Guy (unat), Tori Hoggard (unat), Lexi Jacobus (Ar), Morgann LeLeux (unat), Kortney Ross (unat).