Holliday Wins NCAA Pole Vault Crown
June 14, 2003
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - In the fourth and final day of the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, the University of Oregon track and field teams both finished top 20 for the first time since 1991, while their final three men's and women's All-Americans included the first individual Duck women's NCAA champion since 1996.
Overall in the team race, the Duck men ranked 13th overall with 19 1/4 points for their second-best score and finish since 1993, with their best effort from that stretch a ninth-place score of 27 points in Eugene in 2001. Overall in the team race, Arkansas won their 10th team title with 59 points, ahead of Auburn (second, 50), USC (third, 41 1/2), LSU (fourth, 36) and Nebraska (fifth, 33).
The Duck women were equally satisfied with their 17th-place finish and 14 1/2-point tally that gave them their highest outdoor finish since 1993's fourth-place score of 35 points. Overall in the team race, LSU won their 14th crown in history with 64 points, ahead of Texas (second, 50), South Carolina (third, 47), Florida (fourth, 36) and Nebraska (fifth, 33).
Leading the way, redshirt senior pole vaulters Becky Holliday and Niki McEwen claimed first and fifth-place finishes with marks of 14-5 1/2 and 13-5 1/4 in their final collegiate meets as Ducks. Both marks stood as their highest NCAA efforts, while Holliday broke the meet record by 1 centimeter / a quarter-inch with her third-best ever mark, while missing her three tries at 15-0 with solid attempts on her way down on each
'It's a big relief to finally get it over with,' Holliday said. 'It's been a nerve-ending stretch. To train hard for two years for one day creates so many expectations and pressure. Also factor in whole bunch of friends and family coming to see me that I didn't want to let them down. A lot of them had never seen me vault, so I wanted to give them my best performance in a place that is special to me.'
Born in nearby Penryn, Calif., (approximately 20 miles northeast of Sacramento) and a one-time Auburn, Calif., resident, Holliday topped the best-ever NCAA outdoor field that featured four 13-9 1/4 clearances courtesy of Arizona junior Connie Jerz (second, 14-1 1/4), Georgia sophomore Fanni Juhasz (third, 13-9 1/4) and Akron's Kira Sims (fourth, 13-9 1/4).
The former Clackamas CC transfer and Sparks, Nevada native passed at the opening height of 12-9 1/2, followed with first-attempt efforts at 13-1 1/2, 13-5 1/4 and 13-9 1/4. She then converted her second attempts at 14-1 1/4 and 14-5 1/4, then passed at 14-7 1/2 once the competition was won, before moving four inches higher for her first cracks at 15 feet. Holliday never trailed in the competition and was in a tie with Arizona's Jerz at 14-1 1/4 as both made their second tries. Once Holliday made her second try at the next height of 14-5 1/4, Jerz moved up to the ensuing height of 14-7 1/2 for her final try (after two misses at 14-5 1/4), but hit the bar on the way over the bar.
'Coming in I wanted to get all my first attempts,' Holliday said, 'because the field is so competitive and you want as much help with the tie-breakers as possible. You never know when somebody else will pop one so you have to be ready to respond. There's so much talent at this meet that anybody can get on a roll and has the tools to jump 14-10. I was pretty nervous out here during the prelims on Wednesday so Mark (Vanderville, assistant coach) said I really needed to try and stay as relaxed and calm as possible. But I had so much adrenaline so I tried to channel it into the competition.
Saturday's late-afternoon conditions - with an acceptable slight breeze and moderately warm temperatures - proved a stark contrast to the men's final on Friday that featured stronger sidewinds and headwinds. Holliday's biggest nemesis proved her own body as early concerns about dehydration gave her a momentary scare.
'My legs started cramping up early and I had to get so some electrolytes in me before it settled down,' Holliday said. 'I was so nervous during the day, that I had problems keeping fluids in me and it caught up with me on the second bar. But once the Gatorlytes kicked in at 13-5 I was a lot better. When I went up to 13-9 I had a lot more confidence although I needed to use my legs more. At 14-1 I went up poles and lost a little confidence until I saw Connie (Jerz, Airzona, second) make it and that got me going again. Having someone from Pac-10 clear it gave me confidence - our athletes always step up at nationals.'
On her final attempts at 15-0, nearly all of the crowd of 10,400 turned their attention to the north end for Holliday's attempts at a would-be third school record in the past four weeks, with a Hayward Field-like rhythmic clap giving her extra momentum. 'It was a long event, and I needed a little help to get pumped up - they were great and so supportive. I've only jumped here once before, back in 1997 when I was a junior at Golden West (a June high school all-star meet), so I made sure I watched some video tapes of others jumping here at the 2000 Olympic Trials to help get me going and familiar with the venue, and I could feel a difference.'
Holliday capped a impressive stretch run that featured school and meet records and wins in the Pacific-10 Conference Championships (14-6) and West Regional (14-8), while the latter mark also netted her the outdoor collegiate record and a sixth-place ranking all-time among Americans. However, she'll have little time to rest on her laurels with the USA Championships up next week in Stanford next weekend with the top three finishers earning a trip in August to the World Championships in Paris, France. However, Sunday's effort proved a fitting finale after she opened the year with a height of 12-5 1/2, and sported an indoor season best of 13-2 1/4 after the first month of the season.
'I had to take some steps back indoors, but it paid off,' Holliday said. 'Mark (Vanderville, assistant coach) has created an awesome coach-athlete relationship. He's given me the strength to be more independent and handle meet situations on my own. I used to be so reliant on others, but I'm maturing. He's been willing to give and take, and he was right on again today when he told me we needed to go up a pole.
Career-wise, she claimed her fourth All-America honor in as many appearances after scoring an Oregon indoor school record in the 2003 collegiate finale indoors (14-3 1/4), and similar All-America honors as a junior in 2002 outdoors (third, 13-5 1/4) and indoors (seventh, 13-9 1/4). Altogether in her two-year career for the Ducks, she posted eight meets at 14 feet or higher, both indoors and outdoors in 2002 and 2003 - five of them coming since the Pepsi Team Invite in April.
Also claiming All-America honors, fellow redshirt senior Niki McEwen missed tying her all-time best NCAA finish by only one place (fifth, 13-5 1/4), and claimed her fourth All-America in seven appearances indoors and outdoors.
McEwen passed at the opening height of 12-9 1/2, then made first attempts at 13-1 1/2 and 13-5 1/4, then narrowly missed her three attempts at 13-9 1/4 - a mark that would have stood as her second-highest mark ever.
'I felt great and on the runway and I was able to balance the excitement and focus of my last NCAA meet well,' McEwen said. 'One important thing was that I made the transition from 13-6 to 14-6 poles which I did at the last height on my final try. It was good to get on it in a meet and start getting more familiar with it, especially with USA's ahead. I think if I had one more jump I would have gotten it rolling and made it.'
With the pole vault wrapping up its fifth year as a collegiate event, McEwen wrapped up a career as one of the event's pioneers, and owned the overall school records as a sophomore in 2000 (13-5 1/4) and matched it again as a true junior in 2001. In 2002, she hiked the indoor mark to 13-9 3/4 with Becky Holliday, then redshirted the outdoor season that year. Indoors in 2003, she netted her first 14-foot bar at the Pole Vault Summit to open the year in January (14-1 1/4), then just missed her first 14-foot outdoor clearance at home in the Pepsi Team Invite in April (second, 13-11 1/4).
'I definitely felt more mature this year. At the start of the season, there was no question or doubt about going to nationals. I automatically planned on it and doing the training I needed to try and do well here. It's amazing how fast it's gone by. My most memorable moment was going 13-5 1/4 that first time as a sophomore - that seemed so high back then. I was lucky to come into a sport that was developing as I was, so I could progress as the heights went higher. Nowadays the freshmen have to be ready to go pretty high from the start to place high at nationals.
In her previous seven NCAA trips, she claimed a trio of All-America honors, already in 2003 (indoors - fourth, 13-11 1/4) and indoors in 2000 (fourth, 13-5 1/4) and in her outdoor debut in 1999 (fifth, 12-9 1/2). The former school record holder posted a breakthrough season . At the Pac-10 level she took second twice (2003-13-3 1/2, 1999-12-7 1/2), and added seventh in 2001 (12-11). She owned the school record as a sophomore and junior with her clearances of 13-5 1/4 in both 2000 and 2001, before she and Holliday upped the record indoors in 2002 to a then mark of 13-93/4.
Looking ahead, McEwen will likely stay close to her training nest in Eugene with Holliday to continue her transition to the post-collegiate ranks, and will also look forward to the USA finale next week.
'Stanford should be fun next week, although it can be a tricky place to vault sometimes since then can have a steady sidewind,' McEwen said, 'but it seems like it's normally less this time of year. After that, I'm looking ahead to staying around here to aim for next year's Olympic Trials. I also start to build up my 2000 hours I need as a certified nurse before I start nursing school somewhere in Oregon. It'll probably take 1 1/2 years or so before I can start grad school, so it will be nice to stay in a familiar place that has supported so far.'
Redshirt junior Abby Andrus wrapped up her initial season for the Ducks with an 18th-place finish (5,019) - her third +5,000 point score this season after entering her Duck career with a personal best of 4,903 points. Andrus braved temperatures in the upper 80s for almost five hours Saturday to finish only three spot lower than her pre-meet seeding (15th), although she had seen limited practice recently due to a lower leg injury.
'It was a hard day,' Andrus said, 'mostly because I didn't want to do what I wanted yesterday, and I started off slow again today in the first event. However, Mark (Stream, assistant coach) had me just go after each of the last two events one by one, and go for personal bests in both.'
The Peoria, Ariz., native and Paradise Valley CC transfer climbed eight places from her first-ay ranking with marks of 2:14.82 in the 800, 117-10 in the javelin and 17-0 in the long jump. She won her first of two heats in the 800 (2:14.82) after taking the lead at in the halfway point and won by almost two seconds, while her time ranked third-fastest among the two heats. Andrus also was less than a foot away from her javelin best and ranked 13th among Saturday's marks. Her lone disappointment Saturday came in the opener as she fouled her first two long jump attempts, then cleared 17-0 on her last try.
'In the 800, I wanted to finish with a positive performance,' Andrus said. 'I was aiming for 32-second splits for as long as possible, but the track was hot and my feet felt like they were burning. Even though I'm from Arizona, it's funny how quickly you lose that. My long jump has been inconsistent all year, partly because we haven't been able to practice it much. Hopefully as I get more practice I can be a lot more consistent. Overall, I can't be too disappointed with my mental concentration. Even though things didn't go that well, I did my best to stay with it.'
Overall in the event, Georgia junior Hyleas Fountain posted personal bests in six of the seven events en route to a 160-point win (5,999) over returning NCAA runner-up and Gladstone, Ore., native Ellannee Richardson of Washington State (second, 5,839).
Andrus' second-day performance helped make up for a disappointing opener Friday after she tallied 2,926 points based on marks of 14.86 in the 100 hurdles, 5-2 1/2 in the long jump, 32-3 in the shot put, and a .01-second personal best in the 200 (25.69).
Andrus wrapped up a successful first season for the Ducks that featured a personal best score that ranks her fifth for the Ducks all-time and was from her third-place Pac-10 finish (5,303). She also led the Ducks in the 100 (13.93w, 13.99) and 400 hurdles (59.90) and ranks seventh and sixth, respectively, all-time for Oregon. She came to Eugene as the 2002 junior college national runner-up (then-PR 4,903), and has upped her personal best by 400 points this season.
On the men's side, redshirt sophomore Eric Logsdon netted the Ducks' 27th All-America honor in the 5,000/3-mile in his NCAA debut (eighth, 13:59.00). The Canby, Ore., native ran most of the race near his final place, and nearly put the Ducks over the 20-point mark after passing former NCAA 10K champ Boaz Cheboiywo in the final 60 meters, before Colorado's Billy Nelson outleaned him at the line.
'My goal for the season coming in was to finish top eight,' Logsdon said, 'but I'm disappointed that I didn't get seventh, because we needed another point to score 20. I was aiming for the guy ahead of me, but I ran out of gas a little at the end. I wanted to be aggressive from the start - somewhere near seventh or eight place - and I was right around there most of the race. After that I wanted to start outkicking guys at 800, 600, 400 and 200 meters go. I thought there was a good chance that the race might go out harder after the way the 10K went out, but I shifted my plans to fit the race.'
Overall in the event, Arkansas junior Alistair Cragg sealed the team win for Arkansas with a two-second win (13:47.87) over Stanford's Louis Luchini (second, 13:49.81), outkicking the Cardinal junior in the final lap.
The Canby, Ore., native Logsdon finished off a strong second season for the Ducks that featured his first cross country All-America finish last fall to help the Ducks to fifth place in the NCAA Championships. Outdoors, he led the Ducks in the 5,000 with his 12-second personal best from the Oregon Invitational (13:52.62), a mark he fell just shy of a month later in the West Regional (third, 13:54.28) to earn his first NCAA invite. He was also a Pac-10 qualifier in the 1,500 with his personal best from the Pepsi Team Invite in Eugene in April (3:48.51).
'To get two All-America awards in the same season is an honor,' Logsdon said, 'and adds up to a pretty good year. I have a lot of room to improve but I was happy with my consistency outdoors in the 5K, and look forward to going faster.'
Logsdon's mark also netted the Duck distance head coach Martin Smith his second All-America distance honor of the meet and the 20th 5K All-America award of his career (including his Wisconsin honorees). Logsdon was one of four distance runners that competed for the Ducks in Sacramento with redshirt junior Ryan Andrus missing similar honors by one place in the 10K, and Brett Holts not advancing out of the steeplechase semifinals. All four were All-Americans last fall in cross country giving the Ducks their most harrier honorees since 1991. Three of those Ducks - Andrus, Holts and Logsdon - return as redshirt juniors in the fall of 2003.
Looking ahead to one last non-collegiate championship showdown, several Duck men and women may compete Thu.-Sun., June 19-22 in the USA Championships - Jason Hartmann (10,000), Becky Holliday and Niki McEwen (pole vault), Mary Etter (discus), Elisa Crumley (javelin), John Stiegeler (javelin), and Adam Kriz (hammer). A trio of others - freshmen Jordan Kent (200), Travis Anderson (400) and David Moore (pole vault) will also travel to Stanford for the USA Junior Championships, Fri.-Sat., June 20-21.
FINAL TEAM SCORES
Attendance - 10,400
NCAA Men's Team Scores - 1, Arkansas, 59. 2, Auburn, 50. 3, USC, 41 1/2. 4, LSU, 36. 5, Nebraska, 33. 6, Florida, 32. 7, Tennessee, 30. 7, Stanford, 30. 9, Minnesota, 29. 10, South Carolina, 22. 11, Texas A&M, 20. 11, Penn, 20. 13, Oregon, 19 1/4. 14, Georgia, 19. 14, TCU, 19. 16, Middle Tenneessee State, 17. 17, Texas Tech, 16. 17, SMU, 16. 19, UCLA, 1 1/2. 20, Mississippi State, 13.
NCAA Women's Team Scores -1, LSU, 64. 2, Texas, 50. 3, South Carolina, 47. 4, Florida, 36. 5, Nebraska, 33. 6, Indiana, 32. 7, North Carolina, 30. 8, UCLA, 28. 9, Stanford, 27. 10, Penn State, 24. 11, Georgia, 22. 12, Washington State, 21. 13, USC, 19. 14, Auburn, 18. 15, BYU, 17 1/2. 16, Cal Poly, 16. 17, Oregon, 14 1/2. 18, Miami, 14. 19, Arkansas, 13 1/2. 20, Yale, 13. 20, Idaho, 13.
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