DELAWARE, Ohio – University of Chicago sophomore Michael Bennett finished runner-up in a thrilling conclusion to the men's pole vault competition to highlight day one of the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships on Thursday.
Bennett entered the meet gunning for his second national title of the year; he previously won the NCAA indoor pole vault championship in March. The sophomore started strong with only one miss on his first seven attempts. Bennett cleared 5.00 meters for the first time in his collegiate career and ended up tied with Rick Valcin (University of Dubuque) at 5.10 meters.
Both vaulters had the same number of misses leading up to the 5.15-meter bar, so a jump-off was initiated to determine the national championship. Valcin cleared his opening attempt at 5.15 meters to claim the title. Bennett's final height of 5.10 meters broke his own school record.
"Michael vaulted so much better today than he did when he won the indoor championship," said Head Coach Chris Hall. "He went 20 centimeters above his personal best. It was just an outstanding performance. I think Michael really handled the pressure of being the incoming champion extraordinarily well. He seemed to be very in control of himself throughout. Michael is ecstatic. To pass five meters for the first time ever, to record a PR four times on the day, he's very happy."
Sophomore Brianna Hickey came in as one of UChicago's two representatives on the women's side of the national meet. She came in as the sixth seed in the 1,500 meters and ran in prelims on Thursday afternoon. Hickey narrowly missed qualifying for Saturday's final with a 13th-place showing in 4:37.85.
- Friday-Saturday, May 23-24 – UChicago at NCAA Division III Championships (Delaware, Ohio)