NCAA Track & Field Championships Results
EUGENE, Ore. - Kristen Denk will look to put an exclamation point on a record-breaking campaign in the pole vault when she competes Thursday at the NCAA Track & Field Championships.
Denk will compete in her specialty Thursday starting at 6:30 p.m., CT at historic Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus.
Denk, a redshirt sophomore from North Royalton, Ohio, aims to become the second Commodore vaulter in as many years to earn All-America recognition. Last year, senior Sarah Bell earned the honor after finishing eighth place at the national championships.
Denk is primed for a big effort in Eugene, according to Vanderbilt pole vault coach Clark Humphreys.
"Kristen's as confident as I've ever seen her and everything has been good with her training and preparation," Humphreys said. "She's entering the meet in top form."
Denk is ranked 12th nationally in the pole vault but enters the NCAA Championships performing at her best. In the last seven weeks, Denk has established a new school record, posted a strong performance at the ultra-tough Southeastern Conference Championship and easily qualified for Eugene with a third-place result at the NCAA East Regional in Tampa.
Denk's outdoor campaign blossomed in Knoxville in early April. Competing at the Tennessee Relays, she eclipsed Bell's school record with a clearance of 4.30 meters (14-1.25). She came back from the record with an impressive performance at the SEC meet, clearing 4.25 meters (13-11.25) and narrowly missing 4.35 meters (14-3.25). At the NCAA regionals in May, she again showed consistency, clearing 4.18 meters (13-8.50).
Humphreys says Denk has turned her game up a notch since the record-breaking performance at the Tennessee Relays.
"Kristen's PR (personal record) in Knoxville put her in another category," Humphreys said. "Clearing 4.30 (meters) gave her a lot of confidence and changed in a positive way how she approaches competition."
Humphreys, who captured the 1997 NCAA outdoor individual pole vault title as a student-athlete at Auburn, believes his top pupil will rise to the occasion. "No doubt Kristen is trending in the right direction. If Kristen performs to her abilities, she has a chance to have a great meet," Humphreys said.
A year ago, Bell earned All-America honors with a clearance of 4.15 meters (13-7.25).