RENO, Nev. – Strong showings from Kansas men Alex Bishop and Regan Gilbert as well as the women’s Natalia Bartnovskaya highlighted the KU pole vaulters’ day at the UCS Pole Vault Summit inside the Reno Livestock Events Center Saturday evening. Bartnovskaya claimed her third-consecutive victory in the event, while Bishop and Gilbert notched sizeable personal bests and a pair of top finshes.
With hundreds of vaulters competing on dozens of runways inside the Reno Livestock Events Center, the KU men looked dominant as Bishop and Gilbert led the way. Bishop, who hails from Scottsdale, Ariz., made his way through the early heights with relative ease, staying alive all the way through to a new personal-best clearance of 5.30 meters (17-4.75 ft.). Gilbert, out of Harker Heights, Texas, stuck right with his elder teammate and backed up Bishop’s 5.30 meter vault with one of his own. Gilbert’s clearance topped his former personal best by nearly seven inches.
Bishop went on to take first place over his KU teammate, as he had fewer fouls during the competition and claimed his third victory in a Kansas uniform. Both Bishop’s and Gilbert’s marks put the KU duo at No. 10 in the NCAA rankings and second in the Big 12 this season.
Other KU men in action were sophomore Greg Lupton (5.10m [16-8.75 ft.]) who finished sixth, sophomore Casey Bowen (5.00m [16-4.75 ft.]) who tied for eighth and sophomore Aaron Blevins (4.70m [15-5 ft.]) who finished 11th along with freshman Nick Maestretti (4.70m [15-5 ft.]). Competing in flight two was freshman Jake Albright, who cleared a season-best 4.85 meters (15-11 ft.]) to win his section.
On the women’s side, Bartnovskaya again proved why she has been one of the strongest pole vaulters in the NCAA this season. The junior out of Krasnoyarsk, Russia made it look easy as she won her third-straight title in 2013. The NCAA-leader cleared a top bar of 4.20 meters (13-9.25 ft.) to seal her win and notch her second-highest mark of the season.
Jumping alongside Bartnovskaya was fellow junior Demi Payne and senior Sarah Hedberg, who completed the KU sweep of the medal stand, finishing second and third, respectively. Payne recorded a mark of 4.05 meters (13-3.5 ft.) to claim the runner-up finish, while Hedberg earned a season best vault of 3.80 meters (12-5.5 ft.) to place third. Sophomore Jaimie House took sixth by notching a mark of 3.80 meters (12-5.5 ft.), also her best of the season.
Junior Abby Row took part in the second flight earlier in the day. The Merriam, Kan., native tied for fourth after hitting a top bar of 3.65 meters (11-11.75 ft.).
The pole vaulters return to Lawrence along with their KU track & field brethren when they host their final indoor home meet of the year, the Jayhawk Classic, on Friday, Jan. 25. First events are slated to begin at 10 a.m., and will conclude at 8:15 p.m. For updates, results and a complete recap log on to KUAthletics.com and follow on Twitter at @KU_Track.
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