Sunday, February 18, 2018

Pullman's Katie Nageotte joins the 16-foot club in winning USATF indoor pole vault title...

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico—Pullman’s Katie Nageotte (above/photo by Randy Miyazaki) tied her personal best, then promptly set three consecutive personal bests en route to becoming the fourth American woman to clear 16 feet and win her first national indoor pole vault title at the USATF Indoor Championships at the Albuquerque Convention Center.

The graduate of NCAA Division II Ashland University in Ohio, who moved to Pullman to train under Washington State vault coach and American record holder Brad Walker, started her day with three straight first attempts, starting at 14-5.5 (4.41m) and ending at 15-1.5 (4.61m).

After Nageotte, Sandi Morris, Jenn Suhr and Morgann LeLeux all passed 15-3.5 (4.66m), the real vaulting began with Nageotte and Morris clearing 15-5.5 (4.71m) on their first attempt, while Suhr passed to the next height of 15-7.25 (4.76m) after a first attempt miss, and LeLeux missing all three tries.

The three remaining vaulters all cleared 15-7.25 (4.76m) on their first attempt, then Nageotte and Suhr each cleared 15-9.25 (4.81m) on their first attempt, while Morris missed twice before passing to 15-11.25 (4.86m).

Nageotte continued her hot streak, clearing on her first attempt, while Morris came through in a do-or-die clearance at 15-11.25 (4.86m).  Suhr missed once and elected to pass to 16-1.25 (4.91m).

At that height, Nageotte made her eighth straight bar to become the 2018 world leader, supplanting Morris. Morris missed all three attempts, and Suhr missed her two remaining tries, giving Nageotte the national title.

Nageotte then took three unsuccessful shots at 16-6.5 (5.04m), one centimeter over the indoor world record set by Suhr in 2016.

Afterward, she told’s Becca Peter that getting that personal best was a matter of time.

“I stayed focused, and didn’t think about the heights”, she said, adding that she’s never double-PR’d in a meet in her career, let alone a triple-PR.

To give some perspective of what Nageotte's accomplished, the only women who have cleared 16 feet indoors or outdoors are: Yelena Isinbayeva (RUS), Suhr, Morris, Yarisley Silva (CUB), Katerina Stefanidi (GRE), Payne and Svetlana Feofanova (RUS).

Fellow Ashland grad Drew Windle of the Brooks Beasts will join Nageotte on the plane to Birmingham, using his strategy of charging the last 200 meters to finish second.

Eventual winner Donovan Brazier and Erik Sowinski set the pace through the first 400, passing it in just under 52 seconds, with Windle in last at 53.10.

He was still in last entering the final lap at 1:20.07, then ran the fastest last lap of 26.23 to catch Sowinski coming off the final turn to stop the clock at 1:46.29, just behind Brazier’s 1:45.10, which is the second fastest time in the world this season.

In the mixed zone, Windle said that part of his confidence in Sunday’s race came from running at the Millrose Games in New York where he had to weave through a large field to finish third in his indoor personal best of 1:45.53 last month.

Nageotte and Windle join Katie Mackey on the plane to Birmingham, UK for the IAAF World Indoor Track & Field Championships on March 1-4.

In other events involving Washington athletes:

—Despite setting a personal best of 7.49 in the finals, former Renton resident Devon Allen finished third in the 60 meter hurdles, as Jarret Eaton (7.43) and Aries Merritt (7.46) went 1-2, leaving Allen the odd man out for the world indoor championship spot. Allen won his semi-final heat earlier in the day, running 7.52; 

—In the men’s 1500, Henry Wynne (3:43.71) and Brannon Kidder (3:43.78) of the Brooks Beasts finished fifth and sixth, as 2016 Olympic 5000m silver medalist Paul Chelimo (3:42.91) won his second national title of the weekend, adding to the 3000m crown he won Saturday; 

—Bellevue native Katie Burnett was fourth in the women’s 3000 race walk in 13:56.46, as Maria Michta-Coffey won in 13:00.53.

NOTE:  USA Track & Field and contributed to this report.  The IAAF assisted with statistical information.

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