Olympic Trials Women’s High Jump — 8 In A Row For Vashti Cunningham

2 in ’17, 2 in ’18, 2 in ’19, 1 in ’20 and now 1 in ’21: that’s 8 straight national titles for Vashti Cunningham without a loss. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

INDOORS AND OUT, Vashti Cunningham won her 8th straight national title with a 6-5 (1.96) clearance. The last time the 23-year-old Nevadan finished any lower in a nationals was her runner-up position behind Chaunté Lowe at the ’16 OT.

As one of only 3 Americans holding an Oly Q-standard (6-5/1.96), Cunningham guaranteed her making the team. The two others at standard — Jelena Rowe and Rachel McCoy, — hurt their chances, perhaps fatally, with performances that threw the naming of the team into turmoil.

Friday’s qualifying round was disastrous for Rowe as she no-heighted, missing three times at 5-11½ (1.82) after passing the opening 5-9¾ (1.77).

Sunday’s final was conducted on an apron fully in sunshine, with temperatures in the upper 80s. Light breezes appeared to have little effect.

Jumping began at 5-9¾ (1.77), a height which Cunningham and Inika McPherson passed and which everyone but Jamari Drake cleared on first attempt. With the bar at 5-11½ (1.82), McPherson cleared on first attempt, and with a clean slate found herself tied for the lead with McCoy, Nicole Greene, Liz Evans, Shelley Spires and Amina Smith.

The next height, 6-1½ (1.87), saw the start of Cunningham’s day, and her first-attempt clearance put her in a 4-way tie with the others who cleared on first attempt — McCoy, Greene and Evans — all of whom remained clean. McPherson needed three attempts to clear, but redeemed herself at the next height, 6-2¾ (1.90), when her first jump proved successful. Cunningham, McCoy and Greene also cleared on first try, now the only three with perfect cards.

At 6-4 (1.93), only Cunningham and McPherson made the height on their initial attempts, McPherson standing 2nd because of her earlier misses. Greene missed once, and McCoy twice before both cleared, while Evans missed once before withdrawing.

With McCoy now 4th she needed a clearance at the Q-standard of 6-5 (1.96) to have a chance to move back into the top three. She couldn’t do it, and remained 4th as Cunningham was the only one to clear, with McPherson and Greene finishing 2nd and 3rd. Cunningham had the bar raised to a Trials record of 6-7½ (2.02), but couldn’t equal her PR this day.

The winner expressed mixed emotions, saying, “I didn’t quite jump the height I wanted to,” adding, “This meet has meant a lot to me. I really wanted the title in 2016, but I was young and still going through everything.”

Holder of the highest outdoor mark in the world this year at 6-7½ (2.02), Cunningham will be the leader of a threesome that won’t be completed until the final WA rankings are released on July 01.

WOMEN’S HIGH JUMP RESULTS

(June 20)

1. Vashti Cunningham (Nik) 6-5 (1.96)

(6-1½, 6-2¾, 6-4, 6-5, 6-7½ [xxx]) (1.87, 1.90, 1.93, 1.96, 2.02 [xxx]);

2. Inika McPherson (unat) 6-4 (1.93)

(5-11½, 6-1½ [3], 6-2¾, 6-4, 6-5 [xxx]) (1.82, 1.87 [3], 1.90, 1.93, 1.96 [xxx]);

3. Nicole Greene (unat) 6-4 (1.93) PR

(5-9¾, 5-11½, 6-1½, 6-2¾, 6-4 [2], 6-5 [xxx]) (1.77, 1.82, 1.87, 1.90, 1.93 [2], 1.96 [xxx]);

4. Rachel McCoy (unat) 6-4 (1.93)

(5-9¾, 5-11½, 6-1½, 6-2¾, 6-4 [3], 6-5 [xxx]) (1.77, 1.82, 1.87, 1.90, 1.93 [3], 1.96 [xxx]);

5. Liz Evans (unat) 6-2¾ (1.90)

(5-9¾, 5-11½, 6-1½, 6-2¾ [3], 6-4 [x]) (1.77, 1.82, 1.87, 1.90 [3], 1.93 [x]);

6. Rachel Glenn (SC) 6-1½ (1.87)

(5-9¾, 5-11½ [3], 6-1½ [2], 6-2¾ [xxx]) (1.77, 1.82 [3], 1.87 [2], 1.90 [xxx]);

7. tie, Amina Smith (Shore) & Shelley Spires (USAF) 6-1½ (1.87)

(5-9¾, 5-11½, 6-1½ [3], 6-2¾ [xxx]) (1.77, 1.82, 1.87 [3], 1.90 [xxx]);

9. Abigail O’Donoghue (LSU) 6-1½ (1.87)

(5-9¾, 5-11½ [3], 6-1½ [3], 6-2¾ [xxx]) (1.77, 1.82 [3], 1.87 [3], 1.90 [xxx]);

10. Jamari Drake (NM) 5-11½ (1.82)

(5-9¾ [2], 5-11½, 6-1½ [xxx]) (1.77 [2], 1.82, 1.87 [xxx]);

11. tie, Anna Hall (Ga) & Sanaa Barnes (Vill) 5-9¾ (1.77)

(5-9¾, 5-11½ [xxx]) (1.77, 1.82 [xxx]).

QUALIFYING (June 18)

Qualifiers: all qualifiers cleared 6-1½/1.87 (Evans & Barnes PRs);

Non-qualifiers: [5-11½/1.82] — Morgan Smalls (unat), Ty Butts Townsend (unat), Krystle Schade (unat), Lucy Corbett (MtStB);

[5-9¾/1.77] — Rylee Anderson (Ks), Nissi Kabongo (SFA), Taylor Beard (Cinc), Chinenye Agina (Azusa), Shelby Tyler (Ga), Lily Lowe (Az), Claire Kieffer-Wright (unat);

[nh] — Jelena Rowe (AsicsNvG), Quintella Johnson (EnMi).

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