Weekend Roundup — February Kicks Off In Style

Mondo Duplantis was thrilled to be able to vault in front of a home crowd in his LSU uniform. (BRYAN WAYNE)

There were indoor world leaders galore—including 3 in the men’s pole vault—as the season continued to pick up steam. A few highlights:

Mondo Back Atop The Vault Heap

In the last weekend of January prize LSU frosh Mondo Duplantis had briefly held a share of the yearly world lead in the vault, clearing 19-1½ (5.83). That only lasted a day, as American Sam Kendricks raised it by centimeter to 19-2 (5.84) in Paris. At mid-week, Poland’s Piotr Lisek, jumping in Cottbus, Germany, added another centimeter with his 19-2¼ (5.85). On Friday Kendricks was in Berlin and reclaimed the lead with a 19-2¾ (5.86), beating Lisek’s 18‑10¾ (5.76) in the process.

But news travels fast in the modern world, so when the Bayou Bengal Invitational cranked up a few hours later, Mondo had a new target: 19-3 (5.87). He was successful on his second attempt, becoming the No. 2 collegian ever (with the No. 4 performance). He used a longer approach, going from 18 steps to 20. “Because it wasn’t an NCAA meet or a championship meet, we focused on the newer approach to be able to jump 19-3,” he told Sheldon Mickles of the Baton Rouge Advocate. “It was amazing to do that in front of my family and a lot of friends, so the world leader was the cherry on top. It was my first time in an LSU uniform in front of the home crowd. It always seemed so far away, so it was a dream-come-true.” He ended his day by going after a Collegiate Record 19-5 (5.92), but three attempts weren’t enough.

20.30 For Kenny Bednarek

He was the high school leader in the 200 outdoors last year with his 20.43, but Kenny Bednarek, now running for Indian Hills JC, stunned with a world-leading 20.30 in the 200 at Nebraska’s Sevigne Invitational. The 20-year-old yearling won the race by nearly 3 seconds. Coach Brent Ewing seemed a little shocked, saying, “After missing two weeks in November with an injury, we almost didn’t race him. He wasn’t given the green light to race until Thursday, two days before the meet. Neither of us expected he would run something so fast, so early.”

Quincy Hall Runs 45.84, Relays 44.81

The Carolina Challenge featured a pair of nice runs by South Carolina junior Quincy Hall, a 44.60/49.02 pickup who had been undefeated in the JC ranks, showed his mettle at the Div. I level, winning the 400 in 45.84 and running 44.81 on the Gamecocks’ 3:05.68 relay. Of the 400, South Carolina head Curtis Frye said, “That’s one of the most tremendously even races I’ve ever seen. He actually went out in 22-flat and came back in 23.7, which is very unusual. It’s a matter of getting him to go out a little faster. The rest of the guys are going out in 21.5, and they’re coming back, so if he can go out in 21.5 and come back in 23, he’s going to do quite well this year and be a contender.”

On the field, Alabama senior Shelby McEwen cleared 7-7 (2.31) in the high jump for a U.S. and collegiate leader.

Ajee’ Wilson produced the fastest 800 ever seen on an unbanked 200m track. (CHERYL TREWORGY/PRETTY SPORTY)

Fast 800s For Wilson & Murphy

The Camel City Elite meet in Winston-Salem produced a couple of the fastest times ever run on an unbanked 200m track, most notably in the women’s 800, where Ajee’ Wilson blistered a world-leading 1:59.26—the No. 8 U.S. performance ever—to better the old unbanked best of 1:59.41 set by Maria Mutola in ’96. Wilson followed rabbit Georganne Moline through 400 in 59.42, then continued on her own through 1:29.73 at 600 before finishing well clear of Hanna Green (2:03.08) and Raevyn Rogers (2:03.09). In 5th, Athing Mu (Central, Trenton, New Jersey) became the No. 4 prep ever with her 2:03.98.

Said Wilson, “Once the pacer dropped, it was easy to get into a rhythm and slow things down a bit. I really wanted to be aggressive and make sure I didn’t fall into a slow lull. The last two was about digging deep and going hard.”

Clayton Murphy dominated the men’s 800 with his 1:45.92 to become the No. 10 American ever. It too was a flat track best. Mile wins went to Edward Cheserek (3:55.74) and Grace Barnett (4:33.94), as Aussie Patrick Tiernan (7:48.86) and Emily Lipari (8:59.96) took the 3000s.

Fast 300 For Bralon Taplin

Running on his alma mater’s track at Texas A&M’s Thomas Invitational, Grenada’s Bralon Taplin tied the world leader with his 32.49 win over 300. The other sprints were also solid, as Cameron Burrell dashed 6.65 and Kahmari Montgomery edged Houston teammate Obi Igbokwe in the 200, 20.63–20.66. On the field, Longhorn soph Tripp Piperi launched the shot 67-6 (20.57). “My training and preparation are finally starting to come together,” he said. “I know I still have a lot to work on, but for this early in the season, I was happy to hit that good of a mark.”

World Indoor Tour Stop #2: Karlsruhe

Juan Miguel Echevarría took a surprising loss in the long jump as Thomas Montler of Sweden leaped the same 26-6¼ (8.08) as the Cuban, but had the better second jump.
In the high jump, Naoto Tobe cleared a world leader and Japanese Record 7-8½ (2.35). “My goal this season was get the national record but now I’ve already done that,” he said. Three tied for the win in the women’s vault, with Alysha Newman, Anzhelika Sidorova and Katerína Stefanídi all clearing 15-5½ (4.71), Newman claiming a Canadian Record. Katie Nageotte took 4th with a 15-2¼ (4.63).

Malaika Mihambo Closing In On 7m Barrier

In addition to Kendricks’ big vault in Berlin, Germany’s Malaika Mihambo produced a world-leading long jump of 22-11¼ (6.99). “I was in a good mood and it showed,” she said, adding, “Of course, I was a little annoyed by being 1cm short of 7m, but only briefly.”

A Busy Week For Mariya Lasitskene

4 meets in 10 days is a heavy schedule for a high jumper, but Mariya Lasitskene culminated her string of meets by soaring over a world-leading and PR-equaling 6-8¼ (2.04) to top Anna Chicherova (6-6¾/2.00) in Moscow on Sunday. Prior to that she had jumped 6-6¾ in Moscow on the 25th, 6-7 (2.01) in Volgograd on the 27th and 6-7½ (2.02) in Cottbus on the 30th. On the track—in this traditional bastion of the mile—Vladimir Nikitin set a Russian Record of 3:54.77. In the 400, Antonina Krivoshapka ran a WL 51.86.