National Championships preview — Women’s jumps
Could Jenn Suhr set a world record in Des Moines? Yes, she could.
In advance of this week’s USATF Championships in Des Moines and Canadian Championships in Moncton, we’re taking an in-depth look at the field events, which too often get ignored. That likely won’t be the case for the women’s pole vault, though, as Jenn Suhr is in world record shape right now.
There are two battles in each event: the national championship, and winning a place on the national team to the World Championships. That’s where the ‘A’ and ‘B’ standards come into play. In general, one entry in an event at the Worlds needs to have met the ‘B’ standard (or better), and any additional entries need to have met the ‘A’ standard. Jim McDannald covered the specifics earlier this week.
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Final: Saturday, 2:45pm local time (3:45p ET)
Standards: ‘A’ – 1.95m, ‘B’ – 1.92m
American record holder Chante Lowe has a wild card entry to the Worlds as the defending champion. She’s eight months pregnant right now, though, so she won’t be competing in Des Moines.
That leaves collegiate record holder Brigetta Barrett (Arizona) more or less unchallenged. Not only is she the only US jumper with the ‘A’ standard, only one other has the ‘B’. This is the high jump, an event in which things don’t always go according to the book, but only once in the last two years has she lost to an American besides Lowe. You can figure her as the favorite.
That lone loss was early this year at the Millrose Games to unsponsored Inika McPherson, this year’s USATF indoor champion. Her best jumps over each of the last two years meet the ‘A’ standard but her current form is questionable at best; she hasn’t competed since the Drake Relays, where she finished sixth.
That lone ‘B’ qualifier is Tynita Butts (East Carolina) who had an outstanding indoor season and is redshirting the outdoor season. She was runner-up to Barrett at the NCAA indoor championships. But like McPherson, her current form is questionable, as she hasn’t competed since the Mt. SAC Relays in April.
The Canadian Championships looks like a battle between a couple of collegians, Michelle Kinsella (Louisville) and Rachel Machin (Calgary), but it looks like a long shot for either to achieve the necessary standard to get to the Worlds.
Final: Sunday, 1:30pm local time (2:30pm ET)
Standards: ‘A’ – 4.60m, ‘B’ – 4.50m
It is not hype or exaggeration to say that we could see Jenn Suhr (adidas) break the world record. She broke the world indoor record at the USATF indoor championships and reports are that she nearly broke the world record at a small meet just last week. She is in tip-top form right now.
The battle for second and third should be tight between Kylie Hutson (Nike) and Mary Saxer (New York AC). The two have met eight times in 2013 alone, with Hutson coing out ahead 4 times to Saxer’s three (with one tie). Overall, though, Saxer has been slightly more consistent.
If either of them falters there’s a long list of good vaulters ready to pounce: Lacy Janson (Nike), April Steiner-Bennett (Asics), Becky Holliday, Katy Viuf, and Janice Keppler all have the ‘A’ standard in their back pockets.
National record holder Kelsie Hendry is the only Canadian to clear either the ‘A’ or ‘B’ standard and enters the championships in Moncton as the favorite. She’s had consistency problems, though, getting the dreaded no-height in four of her seven competitions this year and at last year’s Canadian Olympic Trials.
Final: Saturday, 3:15pm local time (4:15pm ET)
Standards: ‘A’ – 6.75m, ‘B’ – 6.65m
Brittney Reese (Nike), aka “The Beast”, is the five-time defending USATF outdoor champion, the two-time defending World outdoor and indoor champion, and the defending Olympic champion. When she finds the board, no one can beat her. She’ll get a spot on the Worlds team just by showing up to Des Moines, as she has a “wild card” entry.
She doesn’t always find the board, though, and when she doesn’t she gets beaten by Janay DeLoach Soukup (Nike), the most consistent and dependable jumper in the world. Reese’s only two losses in 2013 came to DeLoach Soukup, the Olympic bronze medalist.
The USA has two more ‘A’-qualified jumpers in Funmi Jimoh (Nike) and unsponsored Tori Bowie. Whoever finishes highest out of the two is basically guaranteed a spot on the US team to the Worlds. The fourth spot (remember, Reese has a wild card entry) could go to a ‘B’-qualified jumper if they beat anyone with an ‘A’.
A couple of reasonable candidates to do just that are collegians Andrea Guebelle (Kansas) and Vashti Thomas (Academy of Art), although both might opt to put their energies into other events. Whitney Gipson (Nike), Chelsea Hayes (Nike), and unsponsored Tori Polk all have the ‘B’ standard and could be factors as well.
Canada has one qualified athlete, Christabel Nettey (Arizona State), who needs only to finish in the top three at the Canadian Championships in order to make the team for the Worlds.
Final: Thursday, 3:00pm local time (4:00pm ET)
Standards: ‘A’ – 14.40m, ‘B’ – 14.20m
The story here is meeting the difficult standard for the World Championships. Collegian Andrea Guebelle (Kansas) missed it by only an inch indoors, but hasn’t been able to improve on that during the outdoor season. After a tough battle to help her team win the NCAA championships, she may not have the gas left to find that extra inch. Still, she figures as one of the favorites to win the national title.
Guebelle’s indoor leap of 46′ 6¼” (14.18m) was the furthest by an American since 2011, when Amanda Smock (New York AC) went the exact same distance. Smock has been consistent this year and won the USATF indoor title but nothing she’s done indicates she’s ready to break her PR and get that Worlds standard. Another who could contend for the national title is Crystal Manning (Chula Vista Elite).
CIS champion Caroline Ehrhardt (Western Ontario) is the favorite to defend her Canadian title but would have to add nearly four feet to her PR to earn the Worlds ‘B’ standard.