Poll of U tracksters finds no vault is no good at Big Tens

Jim Schortemeyer

COLUMBUS, Ohio —Noticeably absent from the smorgasbord of women’s events at this weekend’s Big Ten outdoor championships was the pole vault.
It wasn’t a snafu, a typo or any other error. The vault simply wasn’t held.
The event had been scheduled in the competition several months ago, but the Big Ten later nixed it. Conference officials said they made the move in fairness to schools who needed time to prepare their athletes.
Minnesota began competing in the women’s pole vault this year, and the event will be featured at the NCAA Championships in two weeks. But its exclusion from the Big Ten Championships left Christine Gulbrandsen, the Gophers’ top vaulter, visibly upset.
“We’re the only conference that doesn’t have it,” Gulbrandsen said. “It’s bitter, kind of.”
Gulbrandsen and head coach Gary Wilson found out about the cut a week ago under less-than-ideal conditions.
“We saw the itinerary and saw that it wasn’t on the schedule,” Gulbrandsen said.
The decision to cut the vault probably cost Minnesota points. Gulbrandsen has an NCAA qualifying jump this year, and was favored to place in the top five at Big Tens.
Competing in just the triple jump, Gulbrandsen placed fourth with the second-best effort in school history. She jumped more than 40 feet, eight inches.
Still, that didn’t help ease the disappointment for Gulbrandsen, who would have liked to compete more.
“If I knew beforehand, I would have done the heptathlon,” Gulbrandsen said.
Queen of the Hill
In a field event that did happen — the hammer throw — Angie Hill capped off what has been an impressive rookie season.
A toss of more than 47 meters was the best this year for the freshman from Missouri, and earned her a third-place finish.
Hill is an obvious favorite of Wilson’s because she’s had to earn her way onto the team. Not good enough to compete in shot put or discus, she’s made her mark in the hammer throw.
Her efforts this year have helped earn her “book money” ($500) for next year. The hammer throw will be a scored event at next year’s Big Ten Championships.