The women’s pole vault competition at the USA Indoor Track and Field National Championships on Sunday in Albuquerque, N.M., had a definite Western New York flavor to it. It also had a surprise outcome.
Mary Saxer of Lancaster won the event with a vault of 15 feet, 5½ inches. That’s a personal best, and it was good enough to defeat Olympic gold medalist Jenn Suhr of Fredonia by 2 inches.
“I literally am kind of speechless,” Saxer said. “Beating Jenn is amazing, but I know she didn’t have her best day, too. But it’s my first national title. So I’m going to soak up the moment.”
The next stop for both vaulters and the rest of Team USA is the world championships in Poland on March 7-9.
“Any time that you meet where you have to qualify, you can’t jump to win,” Suhr said. “That’s what I did last year, and that’s why you can jump higher. Not having to jump a lot of bars and jump odd bars just to make sure I can get top two. It’s a different type of jumping, but we’re right where we need to be.”
Elsewhere, 17-year-old Mary Cain successfully defended her title in the 1,500 meters, winning in 4:07.05.
“I have a fan base in New Mexico,” said Cain, from Bronxville, N.Y. “I really wanted to do it for them.”