WEST DES MOINES, Iowa--American record-holders Jenn Suhr and Brad Walker claimed the 2012 Drake Relays "Pole Vault in the Mall" individual competitions on Wednesday at Jordan Creek Town Center, setting event records in the process.
Suhr, the world's No. 1-ranked women's pole vaulter, cleared a height of 15 feet 7 inches (4.75m) on her first try to claim the victory. The American indoor and outdoor record-holder then attempted to top her indoor record of 16 feet, but missed on all three attempts at 16-0 3/4 (4.90m).
Catch Mediacom's broadcast of Pole Vault in the Mall re-airing April 29 at 7 p.m., April 30 at 10 a.m., May 1 at noon and May 3 at 2 p.m., on MC22.
"It was extremely fun," Suhr said of her first Pole Vault in the Mall experience. "To come here and have the crowd be into it and appreciate it, with the tradition it carries, was something that I wanted to be a part of and I'm glad I was. I wish I could have given them one today (American record) but I was able to get some really good jumps at it."
Walker, the 2012 U.S. indoor champion, cleared a winning height of 18 feet 9¼ inches (5.72m) on his first try to claim the men's title. His three attempts at 19-1¼ (5.83m) fell short.
"It's really fun," Walker said "I love coming out to this meet. It's only my second year here, but I'll come back every year if they keep having me. It was a really good jump (at 19-1 3/4) but the pole was too small. If I would have had a couple more attempts I would have gone up poles and I'd like to think I would have made the bar."
Suhr passed on each of the first three heights before making her first attempt at 15-1.
"I'd heard it was electrifying, I'd heard the crowd was into it, I'd heard it was just an amazing place to jump," Suhr continued. "When I got here it was more than just that, it was more than I could imagine. They definitely got it right."
After the event, Suhr, who had not committed to the Drake Relays pole vault competition on Saturday, revealed after tonight's event she is considering entering.
"There is a chance," Suhr said. "I'm going to rest up and see how things go on Saturday."
Janson was second with a successful height of 14 feet 9 inches (4.49m), which she cleared on her first attempt before failing three times to clear 15-1 (4.60m). Last year's individual Pole Vault in the Mall champion Kylie Hutson finished third, clearing a height of 14-9 on her third try, while Mary Saxer finished fourth by clearing 14-5 1/4 . Becky Holliday was fifth and April Steiner-Bennett was sixth, clearing heights of 14-5 1/4 and 14-0, respectively.
Walker spoke glowingly of the event and crowd.
"We have a lot of events that are inside the stadiums, which are fun, but the crowd is far away, you're not jumping to your own music, your own songs," Walker said. "This just adds another dimension to it. I think people being up close get a good chance to understand the speed and dimensions of it all. It's great for all of us."
Elsewhere in the men's competition, three-time Drake Relays champion and two-time Pole Vault in the Mall winner Derek Miles (2008, '11) was runner-up with a successful clearance of 18-0 1/2 on his first try before failing to clear 18-5 1/4.
Jordan Scott, the 2010 NCAA champion who ranks eighth in the U.S., finished third by clearing 18-0 1/2 on his second try, while Mark Hollis, the 2009 Pole Vault in the Mall champion and third-ranked U.S. vaulter, was fourth at the same height, cleared on his third attempt. Fifth place went to three-time NCAA champion Scott Roth, who sailed over the opening height of 17-6 3/4, while Jeremy Scott, the 2011 Drake Relays champion, no-heighted in the competition.