Street Pole Vault to return at 90th Kansas Relays
LAWRENCE, Kan. –For the second-straight year,the Kansas Relays will feature one of the more unique track & field events in the United States as Lawrence will be the site of the Street Pole Vault Exhibition it was officially announced Thursday. The event is set for 5:30 p.m., on Thursday, April 20 and will be held in the parking lot of the Salty Iguana restaurant near the corner of Sixth and Wakarusa in west Lawrence.
A new twist will be added to this year’s event as it will feature five males and five females, all professionals, in a team-style competition. There will be two runways, one designated for the males and one designated for the females, with the vaulters taking turns on each runway. A male and female will make up each team, with the squad that posts the highest combined clearance declared the winner.
Both the male and female runways will have predetermined heights with each athlete earning a dollar amount per clearance. Just like a normal pole vault event, if an athlete fails to clear a bar after three attempts at one height, he or she will be out of the competition.
The men’s field will include former Kansas track & field standout Alex Bishop. Bishop was a two-time Second Team All-American and claimed the 2013 Big 12 Indoor Championship while vaulting for the Jayhawks from 2010-14. Jack Whitt will join Bishop for his second appearance in the street vault. Whitt grabbed a spot on Team USA for the 2013 World Outdoor Championships at age 23 and claimed third at the USA Outdoor Championships that same year after a standout career at Oral Roberts. He won every Summit League and Southland Conference title in which he competed and claimed the 2012 NCAA Outdoor title.
Mark Hollis is also slated to make the journey to Lawrence next week. Hollis is a two-time USA Champion. His vaulting career took off after his high-profile wins at the 2010 USA Outdoor Championships and 2010 Millrose Games before he claimed a spot on Team USA for the 2011 World Championships. Last year he posted a fifth-place finish at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials. Hollis was also a two-time NAIA Champion for Olivet Nazarene in 2006 and 2007. Another 2016 Olympic Trials participant, Jeff Coover, will take part in the event. Coover was a four-year standout at Indiana from 2007-10, claiming multiple Big Ten Championships and earned All-America status four times. Augusto Dutra rounds out the men’s field. The Brazilian has been a mainstay on the international stage for four years now, competing in four World Championship meets as well as the 2016 Olympic games, where he finished 12th in the preliminary round.
The women’s field consists of another Brazilian Olympian, Joana Costa. Costa took 29th last summer in Rio and has added top-three finishes at six South American and Ibero-American Championships in her career that has spanned over a decade. Mary Saxer highlights the American competitors on the women’s side. Saxer was the 2014 U.S. Indoor Champion and holds indoor and outdoor personal-best vaults over 15 feet. Kristen Hixson will compete coming off of a stellar year. The Grand Valley State product was a three-time DII champion and claimed ninth at last year’s U.S. Olympic Team Trials.
Kortney Ross and Allison Koressel round out the women’s field. Both had star-studded collegiate careers on the west coast, Ross at San Diego State and Oregon and Koressel at UCLA. Koressel was the 2013 MPSF Indoor Champion for the Bruins.
In addition to the pole vault, Salty Iguana will offer food and beverages for sale in the parking lot during the event, weather permitting. Appearances by Big Jay and Baby Jay will also be a part of the festivities.
The 90th Kansas Relays will be held at Rock Chalk Park April 19-22. The event will feature thousands of collegiate and high school competitors over the four days of competition and, for the third year, include a scored collegiate invitational competition between Kansas, California, Minnesota and Southern Illinois. For additional details as well as ticket information, log on to KansasRelays.com.
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