Armand Duplantis vaulting to the NCAA Indoor title in Birmingham (© Kirby Lee)
Even if they did not reach all their goals on Friday (8) night, Armand Duplantis and Grant Holloway remain the key figures of the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships at Birmingham, Alabama, USA.
Competing for Louisiana State University, the 19-year-old Duplantis (pole vault world rank: 2) claimed his first NCAA title, adding that to the senior European and IAAF world U20 and U18 gold medals he's already collected. He came from behind to win with a clearance of 5.83m. He missed three times in a bid to break his two-week-old collegiate record of 5.94m.
Through jumping at 5.68m, Duplantis was in sixth place because of misses at 5.53m and 5.63m. He passed 5.68m, then made 5.73m on his first attempt, 5.78m on his second and 5.83m on his first.
Chris Nilsen (pole vault world rank: 13) finished second and Jacob Wooten (pole vault world ranking: 65) third, both at 5.73m.
Holloway (110m hurdles world rank: 19, long jump world rank: 64) had ambitions of winning a long jump/60m hurdles/60 sprint triple. On a busy evening, he finished third in a close long jump competition and posted the fastest prelim performances in the 60m hurdles and 60m dash.
Holloway leaped into the lead with a long jump of 7.95m in the third round. In round five, he was passed by Rayvon Grey (long jump world rank: 91) who reached 7.97m and Trumane Jefferson (long jump world rank: 166) who leaped 7.96m, a personal best. Briton Jacob Fincham-Dukes (long jump world rank: 83) was another centimetre behind at 7.94m to finish fourth.
“Seeing Rayvon get the win in the long jump, that hyped me up, it motivated me," Duplantis said.
Holloway’s time of 7.44 in the hurdles trials was just .02 off his own collegiate record. His time in the flat 60m was 6.53.
If Holloway can win a sprint/hurdles double, he would be only the third ever to do so in the indoor NCAAs after Willie Gault (1983) and Terrence Trammell (2000).
Holloway's University of Florida teammate, former world U18 100 and 200m champion Hakim Sani Brown, was the next fastest, clocking a personal best of 6.54.
Elsewhere, Payton Otterdahl (shot put world rank: 27) won the men’s shot put with a distance of 21.71m, narrowly missing his collegiate record of 21.81m and the championship record of 21.73m. Adrian Piperi (shot put world rank: 42), the 2015 world U18 champion, was second with 20.98m, a personal best. Denzel Comenentia (shot put world rank: 34) reached 20.58m to round out the top three.
Australia’s Morgan McDonald (5000m world rank: 229) won the 5000m in 13:41.76, running the final 400m in 55.80. Joe Klecker was second in 13:42.79.
In the women’s 5000m, Alicia Monson (5000m world rank: 68) won in 15:31.20 to beat Eritrean Weini Kelati (5000m world rank: 65), a student at the University of New Mexico, who was second in 15:32.95.
Other women’s winners were Michelle Atherley (heptathlon world rank: 56) in the pentathlon with a 4577 tally, Jasmyn Steels (long jump world rank: 217) in the long jump at 6.46m and Samantha Noenning (shot put world rank: 49) in the shot put with 17.91m.
Roy Jordan for the IAAF