Denk punches NCAA ticket

May 25, 2018

TAMPA, Fla. -- Pole vaulter Kristen Denk will represent the Vanderbilt track and field team at the NCAA Championships, scheduled June 6-9 at famed Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.

Denk, a redshirt sophomore competing in her first year with the Commodores, qualified for the national championships Friday by earning a tie for third place at the NCAA East Regional in Tampa.

Three other Vanderbilt athletes competing with Denk Friday - vaulters Caleigh Lofstead and Margaret Ollinger and middle-distance specialist Reagan Bustamante - did not advance for the NCAA Championships.

Denk, from North Royalton, Ohio, was nearly flawless Friday. She entered the competition by clearing 3.93 meters (12-10.25) and 4.08 meters (13-4.50) on her first attempts. Denk then punched her ticket to Eugene by clearing 4.18 meters (13-8.25) on her second try.

The regional competition ended shortly after Denk's final successful attempt when only a dozen of 48 vaulters were able to manage the 4.18-meter mark. A total of 24 vaulters will gather in Eugene, 12 from both the East and West regionals.

Denk, a sixth-place finisher at the SEC Indoor Championship in late February, is in the best form of her vault career. In the last six weeks, Denk has rewritten the Vanderbilt outdoor record with a leap of 14-1.25 (4.30 meters) at the Tennessee Relays, finished fifth at the SEC Outdoor Championship with a clearance of 13-11.25 (4.25 meters) and qualified for the upcoming NCAA Championships. She ranks No. 14 nationally in the event.

This will mark the second consecutive year that a Commodore pole vaulter has qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships. In 2017, Vanderbilt's Sarah Bell earned All-America status by clearing 4.15 meters (13-7.25) to claim an eighth-place result.

Lofstead, from Camas, Wash., and Ollinger, from Fairhope, Ala., struggled competing alongside Denk in Tampa. After clearing the opening bar of 3.78 meters (12-4.75), neither Lofstead nor Ollinger were successful at 3.93 meters (12-10.75).

Bustamante, from Springfield, Va., could not repeat her first-round performance from Thursday when she qualified for the quarterfinals with a sharp 2:06.67 effort. On Friday, she finished the 800 in 2:10.82.

NCAA East Regional Results
Friday, May 25

  Pole vault -- T-3. Kristen Denk 13-8.25 (4.18 meters). T-42. Caleigh Lofstead 12-4.75 (3.78 meters). T-44. Margaret Ollinger 12-4.75 (3.78 meters).
  800-meter run ­­-- 24. Reagan Bustamante 2:10.82.



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