Jenn Stuczynski, the number two rated women pole vaulter in the world, showed her stuff tonight, clearing 4.83 meters for a new American indoor record on the second day of the USATF 2009 Indoor Championships. Her clearance of 15-10, done on the second attempt at this height, showed her improved strength and athleticism. Her continued improvement, under the watchful eye of coach Rick Suhr, suggests some exciting duels this summer in Europe with a certian Russian vaulter.
All photos courtesy of Photorun.net. Special thanks to Lisa Coniglio.
The US Indoor this year had three women pole vaulters clearing heights. Stacy Dragila, the former world record holder, the 2000 Olympic champion, the 2001 World Champion, has recovered well from her surgeries and cleared 4.65 meters for second place. Dragila continues to exemplify the toughness and desire needed to be a world class pole vaulter.
Jenn Stuczysnki is a relative new comer to the sport, having won her first US title in 2005 at the Reggie Lewis Center. A former basketball player, Stuczynski was familiar with our sport, as she had done the heptathlon in high school. At the end of the day, Stuczynski, on a dare, tried the pole vault, and in her first year, cleared thirteen feet. In year two, she cleared fifteen feet, and the rest, as they say, has been history.
Earlier this season, when I was able to grab Rick Suhr for a few minutes, it was obvious that Jenn had been working on her approach, and her control of the pole–Suhr concurred. He obviously felt that she was in better shape than ever, and she could soar much higher than she was going.
Jenn Stuczysnki has finished her indoor season for 2009 with flying colors: a US title and a US record.
My concerns right now are where are the young women like Jenn at right now? The next generation of women pole vaulters in the US need to be coming through the ranks. Someday soon, Stacy Dragila will retire, and who else will get over 4.65?
So track coaches, find those former gymnasts who were too tall to make in gymnastics, but are not burnt out for sports. Also look at tall women swimmers, especially those who do free style and butterfly-great upper torso strength. You also need a young women who is a bit of a rebel, and loves competition. In the end, the pole vault is the ultimate chess game–it is not just how one clears the height, but when. Dealing with pressure should come naturally.
We have not seen how high Jenn Stuczynski can soar over the standard? I believe that, sooner than later, Ms. Stuczynski will own the world record, indoor and well as out. But, before that happens, there will be some great competitions and lots of hard work and training in the old Quonset hut that Jenn calls a training center.
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