Sandi Morris took first place in the women’s pole vault Sunday at the USA Track and Field Championships in Sacramento, Calif., but runner-up Jenn Suhr, the former U.S. and Olympic champion from Fredonia, seemed satisfied that she qualified for World Championships in London in August.
Morris, 24, a former University of North Carolina athlete from Greenville, S.C., cleared 4.80 meters (15 feet, 9 inches) on her first try while Suhr failed to clear that height after missing once and passing twice each at two lower heights.
"(Today) was good," Suhr said. "Coming in I was not exactly sure, I had a little bit of back spasms, so we stayed on shorter runs the whole week. To come in and qualify, I am pretty happy. Anytime you can qualify at a meet and go represent your country, you have to be happy because so much can go wrong. I felt as the meet kept going (I was) figuring out my timing and I switched poles. I am really excited for the next couple weeks of training."
Suhr said she intends to step up her training for London.
"I stayed on short runs so I need to back them up and get on bigger poles," she said. "I stayed on light, small poles. I am going to move up in poles and really go after it in London, put it all out. I don’t have much time left."
Morris, a relative newcomer to the sport, has the world championship as her goal, too.
"I was pretty clean throughout the competition," she said Sunday. "I feel that only now am I starting to find my form. Last year, I won an Olympic silver medal, cleared 4.90 several times, and made 5 meters (16-5). This year I’ve been stuck around 4.75 (15-7).
But I’m still learning. I’ve only been jumping professionally a little more than a year.
"I want to be world champion. I feel I can follow up on an Olympic silver with a World gold."
Former Lancaster High athlete Mary Saxer finished sixth in Sunday’s competition. She cleared 14-11 on her second try but she and five other vaulters dropped out after three misses each at 15-3 while Suhr and Morris moved on.
Former University at Buffalo shot putter Jon Jones of Portville finished 12th in his specialty with a heave of 19.14 meters (62 feet, 6 inches). Jones fouled on his first two attempts before his qualifying throw but was not among the eight who moved on to the second round. Ryan Crouser, the last thrower in the rotation, won with a heave of 22.65 meters (74-3 3/4) on his final attempt, beating the 22.35 effort that Joe Kovacs had on the board in
his final attempt.