Huskies Steal Show at Pole Vault Summit

Jan. 22, 2005

RENO, Nev. - Kate Soma cleared 13 feet, 5 inches, and Stevie Marshalek cleared 13-3 1/2 as Washington dominated action for the third day in a row at the 2005 NAPVA Pole Vault Summit in Reno, Nev.

Three Husky vaulters posted season-bests Saturday, capping a banner three-day run in which 2004 UW grad Brad Walker won the prestigious Men's Elite competition with a world-leading vault, and former Husky Brian Sternberg earned induction to the NAPVA Pole Vault Hall of Fame.

Soma's vault, a season best and the fourth-best by a collegiate woman this year, earned a top-10 finish in Friday night's Women's Elite competition, which saw America's top men's and women's vaulters compete on intersecting runways on the ballroom stage of the Reno Hilton. The Husky senior and NCAA runner-up was the only collegiate vaulter to place among the top-10 in the Women's Elite competition.

Marshalek ensured that Saturday would be a banner day for Washington with a career-best clearance of 13-3 1/2, second-best ever by a UW vaulter and among the top-10 collegiate marks in the 2005 season. Freshman Kelley DiVesta also made waves with a collegiate best vault of 12-0, while junior Ashley Wildhaber cleared 12-7, sophomore McKane Lee and junior Sam Roberts each topped 15-11, and junior Seth Perrins went 15-3.

All but Soma and Walker arrived in Reno late Friday after fog delayed flights into the city for more than 12 hours, turning a two-hour trip into a 14-hour ordeal.

'Those guys went through a lot to get here, but to their credit, they didn't let it affect them when they got out on the runway,' said ninth-year UW vaults coach Pat Licari. 'Given everything that went on down here this weekend, it was just a great time to be a Husky.'

Spokane-native Walker stole the show from his former UW teammates, winning Friday's men's Elite competition and taking the 2005 world lead with a career-best clearance of 19 feet, 1 1/2 inches. The two-time NCAA indoor champion defeated a world-class field including 2004 Olympic silver medalist Toby Stevenson, American record holder Jeff Hartwig, and 2000 Olympic gold medalist Nick Hysong, each of whom were eliminated at 18-4 1/2.

Walker graduated from UW in June with a bachelor's degree in business administration, before placing sixth at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials. The Spokane, Wash., native -- who continues to train with UW coaches at Dempsey Indoor in Seattle -- finished the 2004 season with the sixth-best mark in the world, a mark he has already improved in 2005.

'I had a lot of time on my hands after graduating to do things correctly, getting in early and sleeping well,' he said after the Summit win. 'I was coming in feeling ahead of where I have in previous years. With all these guys, all you can do is hope to jump as high as you can. Hopefully, I can only go up from here.'

Walker was not the only former Husky to earn recognition at the Summit. All-American Matt Phillips won the Men's Open competition Saturday with a vault over 17-9, and Husky Hall of Famer Brian Sternberg earned induction to the NAPVA Pole Vault Hall of Fame at the annual Summit banquet Thursday. Sternberg won the 1963 NCAA pole vault title and set three world records in the event, before being paralyzed in a trampoline accident later that year.

Washington's vaulters will reunite with their teammates this week for the UW Indoor Invitational at Dempsey Indoor. Multi-events begin Friday at 4 p.m., with the remainder of the meet scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Saturday.

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