Jan. 11, 2004
RENO, Nev. - Washington senior pole vaulter Brad Walker, whose saw his bid for a second NCAA title cut short in May by a broken hand, made a triumphant return to competition Friday, defeating American record holder Jeff Hartwig and reigning Olympic gold medalist Nick Hysong at the U.S. Pole Vault Summit in Reno, Nev.
Walker (Spokane, Wash./University) placed second in the men's elite section of the event, which matches hundreds of the top American professional, collegiate and prep pole vaulters in the grand ballroom of the Reno Hilton. The senior's clearance of 18 feet, 4 inches was second only to Derek Miles, the 2003 U.S. indoor champion, who cleared 19 feet.
Walker hopes to repeat that performance at the U.S Olympic Trials in July, which will feature many of the same vaulters the Husky senior defeated Friday. Walker has exhausted his outdoor collegiate eligibility, but due to an injury early in his career, has one season remaining of indoor eligibility which he will use to defend his 2003 NCAA indoor title.
The Spokane, Wash., native cleared a Pac-10 record height of 19-0 1/4 at the NCAA meet last spring, equaling the sixth-best mark in NCAA history and the third-best indoor mark in the world last season. Walker led all collegiate vaulters outdoors in 2003, and captured his second-straight Pac-10 title before breaking his hand in a training accident prior to the NCAA West Regional meet in May.
Walker was one of eight Husky vaulters in action at the Summit, a list that included all of Washington's top returnees, as well as a pair of Prep All-Americans making their UW debuts.
One such newcomer, Kentlake High School graduate Stevie Marshalek, became just the second UW woman ever to clear 13 feet in the vault with a career-best mark of 13-1, good for the win in the second of eight collegiate women's flights. Marshalek, whose prep best of 12-11 1/2 ranked among the top-10 preps in the nation in 2003, had to fend off a challenge by sophomore Carly Dockendorf (Port Moody, B.C./Best Secondary), who took advantage of a week off from competition with the UW gymnastics team to clear 12-9, good for second.
Junior All-American Kate Soma (Portland, Ore./Grant) also impressed in her first competition since a hand injury forced her out of the NCAA Championships last June, clearing 12-9 in the first collegiate women's section. Rounding out competition for the Huskies were senior Fumi Nagahisa (Bellevue, Wash./Interlake), who cleared 15-9, sophomore Sam Roberts (Cashmere, Wash./Cashmere), who cleared 15-0, sophomore transfer Ashley Wildhaber (Chehalis, Wash./W.F. West/UNC Wilmington), who cleared 11-0, and freshman McKane Lee (Arlington, Wash./Arlington), who failed to clear the opening height.
The Husky pole vaulters will return home to join their UW track and field teammates at next weekend's UW Indoor Preview at Dempsey Indoor, scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. The Indoor Preview is the first of five collegiate meets being hosted by the Huskies in 2004, highlighted by the MPSF Indoor Championships at the end of February.
For complete results of the 2004 U.S. Pole Vault Summit, visit www.polevaultsummit.com