March 12, 2010
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Husky junior Scott Roth vaulted his way into the history books today as he claimed the NCAA indoor pole vault title on day one of the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships hosted by the University of Arkansas. Roth is the first individual track and field champion for the Huskies since 2007 and the third NCAA champ in the pole vault for UW assistant coach Pat Licari.
The runner-up at the 2009 NCAA outdoor meet, Roth (Granite Bay, Calif.) had to out-jump the man who beat him for the outdoor title, Jason Colwick of Rice. The two came in ranked first and second, and the expected showdown eventually developed. Colwick passed all the way up to 18-0 1/2, while Roth came in at 17-6 1/2 and cleared that on his second attempt. Roth then passed up to 18-0 1/2 which he cleared on his first try and the rest of the competitors dropped away.
Roth chose to jump next at 18-feet, 4.25-inches, and after two misses, he came through with the clutch final attempt clearance that would ultimately prove decisive. Colwick would miss at 18-8 ¼ and Roth celebrated the win. With the victory in hand, Roth took one shot at 19-1 which would have been the Pac-10 record but dislodged the bar and would be content for now with his first NCAA title.
"It just feels so great knowing that all my hard work has paid off," said Roth. "Jason and I were going back and forth. He would pass a height so I would jump at it and then he would jump at one so I'd pass it and that's just the way things work when two guys are really close. It's a game of strategy knowing which ones you should jump at an which you should pass."
In regards to that critical third-attempt clearance, Roth said, "I was a little nervous but I felt so good on the first two that I was pretty confident on that third one. I went down and cleared it and that ended up being the bar that won the meet."
The win completes a perfect indoor season for Roth, who won all six of his competitions, including the National Pole Vault Summit where he beat Colwick as well, and the MPSF Championships where he broke the meet record. Losing to Colwick at the NCAA Outdoor meet last season provided Roth with a great target to chase.
"I knew (Colwick) had serious talent and that it would take a lot from me to match that or better that," Roth said. "Because of that I worked so hard this season because I knew he was a force to be reckoned with. I trained harder than ever and I had a better indoor season than I could ever ask for."
Roth was also effusive in his praise for Coach Licari and his father, Curt, who both helped him reach this pinnacle.
"Coach Licari has been an amazing coach, I just want to thank him for that, and my dad as well for getting me to where I was right before I got here. I'm really grateful to have both of them in my life and they are a major part of this," Roth said.
Licari, now in his 13th season working with the vaulters and jumpers, has taken three different pole vaulters to a combined four NCAA titles. Current American record-holder and Olympian Brad Walker won the NCAA Indoor title in 2003 and 2004, and Kate Soma won the women's outdoor pole vault title in 2005. This is the eighth NCAA Indoor title for a UW athlete all-time, and the first since Ryan Brown won the 800-meter run in 2007.
"It was all we expected, a battle between Colwick and Scott," said Licari. "There was lots of jockeying back and forth at different heights and passes. Scott was just jumping great tonight. I think he would have done whatever he had to do to win. It was very exciting. It's awesome, (winning an NCAA title) never gets old."
Now with a national title under his belt, Roth is more eager than ever for the upcoming outdoor season and more personal-bests to come.
"I'm probably happiest about my back being as good as it is because I can finally train full force," said Roth. "I feel like I'm not holding back at all like I was in previous years. I can go out there and sprint as hard as I can and work out as hard as I can so I'm really excited to see what I can do this outdoor season. I'm hoping to get 19-feet at some point."
Roth's win was the best but certainly not the only highlight of the day. Senior Katie Follett started the day well for the Huskies by winning the first of two preliminary heats in the women's mile run. Follett led throughout much of the race, and wound up coasting to the finish in 4:41.84. Her time wound up being the fastest of the day. Follett is now back in the NCAA mile final, in which she took sixth in 2008. The ten remaining women will shoot for the NCAA title Saturday afternoon at 4:25 p.m. Pacific time.
"Katie felt great. It was a nice effort for her tonight and she did not have to go to the well and expend any energy," said head coach Greg Metcalf.
Elsewhere, junior Colton Tully-Doyle, a San Diego native competing at his first NCAA Track Championships, hung in well against a phenomenal field in the men's 5,000-meter run. He placed 12th overall in a time of 14:07.50, wrapping a phenomenal indoor season that saw him set the school record in the 5k as well as the second-fastest 3k.
Those looking to see footage of Roth's win should check out ESPN2 on Wednesday, March 17, as the network will air a 90-minute highlight show at 10:30 a.m. Pacific time.