Howard Lao

Former NCAA Champion Captures USATF Title

PORTLAND, Ore. — On Saturday, March 14, 2015 Sandi Morris won an NCAA gold medal with a clearance of 4.60m/15-1 in the pole vault tying the former meet record. 364 days later the 2015 NCAA indoor pole vault champion collected a new crown as the top performer in the event at the 2016 USATF Indoor Championship in Portland, Oregon on Saturday, March 12.

Opting to remain in Fayetteville, Ark. after earning her bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas Morris continued to develop her skill under the watchful eye of renowned pole vault expert and Razorback assistant women’s track and field coach, Bryan Compton.

Almost immediately following her final collegiate meet (2015 NCAA Outdoor Championship) Morris was back on the runway vying for a coveted spot on Team USA’s World Championship team. The South Carolina native outlasted all in the field excepting American pole vault record holder Jenn Suhr and was rewarded for her efforts with a silver medal and a chance to represent the US at the 2015 World Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Beijing.

Following a European tour during which she captured her first international title (Spitzen Leichtathletik Luzern) and improved to a new outdoor personal best of 4.76m/15-7.25 (Heusden-Zolder) Morris capped her 2015 outdoor campaign with a fourth-place finish in the pole vault in her World Championship debut.

Resuming her training during the off-season Morris elected on a whim to open her 2016 campaign at the MSSU Invite in Joplin, Missouri on Feb. 6 and came out with a new personal best of 4.80m/15-9. Earning a bid to the 2015 USATF Indoor Championship off her performance at Missouri Southern, Morris traveled to Portland, Oregon as the third best American in the field behind Suhr and 2015 NCAA Outdoor Champion Demi Payne of Stephen F. Austin.

The 2015 USATF pole vault silver medalist opened her day with a solid first attempt clearance at 4.50m/14-9. Contending with Payne and Suhr both of whom had little to no mistakes through 4.85m/15-11 Morris maintained her composure and thought it best to pass on to 4.90m/16-0.75 following a first attempt miss at the previous height. Attacking the runway on her last effort, Morris vaulted up and over the 16 foot bar for the first time in her career keeping her title dreams alive. Filled with new found confidence Morris sailed over 4.95m/16-2.75 on her first attempt to win the USATF Indoor Track and Field Championships and become the No. 2 best performer in the World this season.

Morris and Suhr, who finished as the runner-up, will represent Team USA in Portland, Oregon at the 2016 World Indoor Track and Field Championships on March 17-20 at the Oregon Convention Center. The women’s pole vault competition will be held on Thursday, March 17 at 9:05 p.m. Central time.

For more information on Arkansas track and field including in-meet updates, follow @RazorbackTF on Twitter.