Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Brad Walker wins the Drake Relays 'Pole Vault in the Mall', while Scott Roth finishes fifth...

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa--Former University of Washington standout Brad Walker (left/photo courtesy Drake Relays) claimed the 2012 Drake Relays “Pole Vault in the Mall” individual competitions on Wednesday at Jordan Creek Town Center, setting event records in the process.

Walker, the 2012 U.S. indoor champion, cleared a winning height of 18 feet 9¼ inches (5.72m) on his first try to claim the men’s title. His three attempts at 19-1¼ (5.83m) fell short.

“It’s really fun,” Walker said “I love coming out to this meet. It’s only my second year here, but I’ll come back every year if they keep having me. It was a really good jump (at 19-1 3/4) but the pole was too small. If I would have had a couple more attempts I would have gone up poles and I’d like to think I would have made the bar.”

“We have a lot of events that are inside the stadiums, which are fun, but the crowd is far away, you’re not jumping to your own music, your own songs,” Walker said. “This just adds another dimension to it. I think people being up close get a good chance to understand the speed and dimensions of it all. It’s great for all of us.”

Three-time Drake Relays champion and two-time Pole Vault in the Mall winner Derek Miles (2008, ’11) was runner-up with a successful clearance of 18-0 1/2 (5.50m) on his first try before failing to clear 18-5 1/4 (5.62m).

Jordan Scott, the 2010 NCAA champion who ranks eighth in the U.S., finished third by clearing 18-0 1/2 (5.50m) on his second try, while Mark Hollis, the 2009 Pole Vault in the Mall champion and third-ranked U.S. vaulter, was fourth at the same height, cleared on his third attempt. Fifth place went to three-time NCAA champion Scott Roth, who sailed over the opening height of 17-6 3/4 (5.35m), while Jeremy Scott, the 2011 Drake Relays champion, no-heighted in the competition.

American record holder Jenn Suhr, the world’s No. 1-ranked women’s pole vaulter, cleared a height of 15 feet 7 inches (4.75m) on her first try to claim the victory. She then attempted to top her indoor record of 16 feet, but missed on all three attempts at 16-0 3/4 (4.90m).

The Drake Relays release is available here.

In Chula Vista, California, former Husky Aretha Thurmond finished second in the discus Wednesday at the Olympic Training Center high performance competition.

Thurmond threw 194-3 (59.21m) to finish behind defending Olympic champion Stephanie Brown-Trafton, who won with a mark of 197-1 (60.07m).

Complete results of the meet are available here.

Thurmond returns to action on Friday at the Triton Invitational against Brown-Trafton & many of the same competitors, hosted by the University of California/San Diego.

The Triton Invitational will also host a high performance men's discus featuring WSU alum Ian Waltz, and former Husky Märt Israel from Estonia, who was a surprising fourth place finisher at last year's world championships in Daegu.

NOTE: The sports information office at Drake University contributed to this report.

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