Sam Kendricks tops 6.06m at the US championships in Des Moines (© Getty Images)
Sergey Bubka has so dominated the pole vault that there should be separate category: non-Bubka world outdoor record-holder. Sam Kendricks now owns that distinction.
Kendricks vaulted 6.06m Saturday (27) to cap a riveting session of the USA Championships at Des Moines, Iowa.
Kendricks, as defending world champion, was already assured of going to the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019. The 26-year-old secured a sixth straight USA title with a clean sheet through 5.81m, then made 5.86m and 5.91m on first attempts.
He had the bar raised to 6.06m and nearly made it on his first attempt. He brushed the bar on his second, but it stayed on, and Kendricks became No.2 on the all-time list outdoors. It was the highest outdoor vault in the world since Bubka cleared 6.14m on 31 July 1994.
Indoors, only Renaud Lavillenie (6.16m), Bubka (6.15m) and Steven Hooker (6.06m) have soared as high or higher.
Vaulters on the infield watching Kendricks rushed to the pit and swarmed over him in collective celebration.
Brad Walker had been No.1 on the US all-time list with 6.04m from 2008. But in an oddity of rules, Mondo Duplantis, who has dual citizenship, owned the US record of 6.05m even though he represents Sweden.
“He grew up in Louisiana, and I don’t fault him for jumping in a Swedish uniform,” Kendricks said. “That’s the way the rule was, and USA Track & Field said they are going to stand by what happened, but we’re going to change the rule. He might not be able to set it in the future, but that’s with the nature of our sport.
“And I wanted to jump 6.06m anyways.”
Bubka jumped 6.06m or higher outdoors nine times in his career.
Behind Kendricks, two 19-year-olds made the world team: KC Lightfoot in third (5.76m) and Zach Bradford in fourth (5.71m). Cole Walsh was second at 5.76m. Left behind was 21-year-old Chris Nilsen, a 5.95m vaulter who tied for seventh at 5.46m.
Price breaks area record in hammer
Elsewhere, Deanna Price set a North American record in the hammer, Fred Kerley shocked Michael Norman in the 400m, and Allyson Felix put herself in position to make the World Championships team just eight months after childbirth.
For the second year in a row, Price broke the North American record in Des Moines, raising it to 78.24m. Her previous record was 78.12m, and she had held the world lead at 77.43m. She remains fourth on the world all-time list.
Price will go to Doha as the gold-medal favorite despite a succession of recent injuries.
“My right upper body was going forward, and it also affected my hip flexor and right leg,” she said. “There were times I couldn’t walk. My physical therapist was holding me together with duct tape and wires.”
Quality was such that four women exceeded 75 metres, including fourth-place Maggie Ewen with a PB of 75.04m. Gwen Berry was second at 76.46m and Brooke Anderson third at 75.30m. The only other hammer competition with four women beyond 75 metres was the 2012 Olympic final.
“America is sending the best three hammer throwers in the world to Doha to compete for our first medal,” Berry said. “I think we will get more than one.”
Kerley upsets Norman at 400m
After the men’s 400m, Kerley asserted “anything can happen” in athletics, and he proved it.
Despite winds influencing times in other races, his 43.64 lowered his previous PB of 43.70 from 2017 and made him seventh on the world all-time list. Norman, No.5 all time at 43.45, finished second to Kerley in 43.79.
Nathan Strother was third in 44.29 and Vernon Norwood fourth in 44.40.
In the women’s 400m, Shakima Wimbley repeated as champion in 50.21. Felix, 33, was sixth in 51.94 but could be added to the world team for the women’s or mixed 4x400m relays.
“I think it would be crazy for me to say that I’m disappointed,” Felix said. “I have my health, I have my family. I couldn’t ask for more than that. And I am able to still do what I love.”
Reese wins again
Brittney Reese won her eighth national title in the long jump with a distance of 7.00m. Tori Bowie, defending world 100m champion, was fourth at 6.78m but will be in Doha in her specialty.
World record-holder Kendra Harrison won the 100m hurdles in 12.44 (-1.2m/s). Nia Ali and Briana McNeal, silver and gold medallists from the 2016 Olympics, were second and third in 12.55 and 12.61.
Shelby Houlihan repeated in the 1500m in 4:03.18. Jenny Simpson, second in 4:03.41, extended her streak by making every world or Olympic team since 2007. Five women bettered 4:04.
Other winners were Stanford and Rome Diamond League winner Rai Benjamin, 47.23 in the 400m hurdles, his second fastest of the season; Vashti Cunningham, 1.96m in the high jump; Hilary Bor, 8:18.05 in the steeplechase, and Michael Shuey, 82.85m in the javelin (one centimetre ahead of Riley Dolezal).
Noah Lyles and 100m winner Christian Coleman easily advanced in the first round of the 200m, setting up a Sunday meeting and possible World Championships preview. Olympic champion Dalilah Muhammad (54.22) and world leader Sydney McLaughlin (54.24) led the qualifiers in the 400m hurdles.
Roy Jordan for the IAAF