Jayhawk vaulters dominate in Albuquerque
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Senior Jake Albright topped the 18-foot milestone for the second time in his University of Kansas career as he led another dominant outing for the Kansas men’s and women’s pole vaulters Saturday at the Martin Luther King Jr. Invitational. Albright posted the nation’s second-best clearance of the 2017 season en route to the event victory, while junior Laura Taylor outdueled freshman teammate Andrea Willis for the top-collegiate finish on the women’s side, as both Jayhawks moved near the top of the NCAA standings.
Albright, the Big 12’s reigning outdoor pole vault champion, had a stellar day inside the Albuquerque Convention Center with a near-perfect outing in his third pole vault competition of the year. The Bucyrus, Kansas native cleared the bar on his first attempt at each of his first five heights of the day, which included a first-attempt clearance over 5.50 meters (18-0½). The vault was the best of his career indoors and moved him to No. 5 on the Jayhawks’ all-time indoor list.
Albright now sits at No. 2 on the latest NCAA pole vault rankings as the second DI collegian to surpass 18 feet this season.
Hot on Albright’s heels was sophomore teammate Paulo Benavides, who also turned in a career outing that moved his name among the best vaulters in Kansas history. Like Albright, Benavides was also perfect through his first four bars, clearing each without a blemish all the way to 5.45 meters (17-10½). He was unable to match Albright’s 18-foot vault though, forcing him to settle for the runner-up finish. The El Paso, Texas product now finds himself ninth on KU’s all-time indoor vault list.
Rounding out the KU men’s pole vaulters were seniors Nick Maestretti and Nick Meyer. Maestretti claimed third after he posted a top clearance of 5.35 meters (17-6½), marking a new indoor personal best, while Meyer ended his day in fourth place by way of his 5.20 meter (17-0¾) vault.
All four Jayhawk men sit inside the top-five of the most recent NCAA DI vault rankings.
On the women’s side, Taylor was also nearly perfect as she claimed the top-collegiate finish with a season-best outing. The junior from Tualatin, Oregon posted five-straight first-attempt clearances, including her final bar that measured in at 4.02 meters (13-2¼). The faultless run through the different heights proved to be the difference for Taylor as she outdueled her freshman teammate, Willis. Willis also managed to clear 4.02 meters but committed one foul on a lower bar, costing her the win.
Both Taylor and Willis now sit 11th in the NCAA and are two of the top-four vaulters in the Big 12 so far in 2017.
Sophomores Alexis Romero and Morgan Griffiths also made the trip to New Mexico, finishing third and fourth, respectively. Romero posted a top vault of 3.87 meters (12-8¼), while Griffiths cleared 3.57 meters (11-8½).
The Kansas track & field teams will journey to SEC country when they hit the road for the Rod McCravy Invitational, hosted by the University of Kentucky. The meet will be held Jan. 20-21 inside Nutter Field House in Lexington. Keep track of all the Jayhawk performances by logging on to KUAthletics.com for complete updates and results and follow through Twitter at @KUTrack.
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