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Beach Pole Vault(Aug 4th 2014, 1:24pm)



Beach Pole Vault

Published by
Armory Track News   Aug 4th 2014, 1:24pm


  SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J. -  Katie Nageotte came to "The Heights" hoping to reach the heights.
  And she nearly succeeded on both counts.
 The 23-year-old flew in from Ohio to win the women's elite event of the sixth annual  Vertical Adventures Jersey Jumps beach
pole vault on the sands of Seaside Heights  and will fly back with a $1000 winner's check.
   "This is really fun, I love these meets," Nageotte after leading the field with a
clearance of 4.40 meters / 14 feet,  5 1/4 inches, Friday night but missing out on three cracks at what would have been a meet record of 4.50 / 14-9.
  "Get up, get up, get up," thousands of fans gathered on the Seaside Heights boardwalk
urged her but she missed thrice at 4.50; the altitude just wasn't there - even with the
backdrop of the Skyscraper ride soaring frighteningly up-up-upward, promoting space travel
every few minutes,  and rave music blasting out from multiple loud speakers.
    "It still gave me plenty of confidence that I'll be clearing these heights regularly in the
future; I'm really excited about what the future has in store for me," said the former NCAA Division II titlist from Ashland University, a resident of Olmsted Falls, Ohio.  "Anytime you have the crowd with you like I had today it's a tremendous feeling.  I wanted that bar as much as they did."
  Many in the crowd came hoping to catch a glimpse of Olympic champion Jenn Suhr's high-flying act, but that part of this great free show just wasn't to be.
   After taking a few warmup jaunts down the runway, the 32-year-old American record-holder felt some Achilles twinges and decided it would be unwise to risk an injury that might hamper her hopes in the big international events on her upcoming schedule.
    She's booked to vault at the Birmingham (England) Aug. 24 and Zurich (Switzerland) Aug, 28 Diamond League meets, as well as the IAAF Continental Cup meet (formerly known as the World Cup ) in Marrakech, Morocco on Sept. 13-14.
  "I'm very, very sorry to disappoint all these fans who came out to Seaside Heights
but it just wouldn't have been smart to take any chances," said Suhr.
  "She made the absolute right decision," event emcee Dwight Stones told the
crowd. "If you're a world-class athlete, you have to be at your best 99 percent of the
time.  Jenn is one of the sport's great and courageous competitors. But it's just not
possible for Jenn to jump today.  So, everybody, put your hands together for this
great athlete."
   Suhr still made many new friends by signing autographs for long after the competition
had concluded.  Her clearance of 5.02/ 16-5 1/2 inches at the 2013 USA Indoor Championships remains the all-time American record, and she took the gold at the 2012 London Olympic Games with a flight of at 4.75 / 15-7.
   Suhr, 32 of Churchville, N.Y., has been America's top-ranked women's vaulter since 2006 and has been top-ranked in the world for two years. Only woman who has ever soared higher is her arch-rival, Russia's Elena Isinbaeva, who has cleared 5.06 / 16-7 1/4.
  Ex-University of Southern California star Brysun Stately took second-place honors (and $500)  while Stephanie Duffy wound up third for $250.
   Armory-goers surely recognize Ben Simonet as one of their own.   After all,
the four-time former champion of Belgium now based in the U.S. and vaulting for the
Hudson Valley Flying Circus has spent countless hours there serving as coach to hundreds of young vaulters learning to fly high.
  Well, Seaside Heights boardwalk fans now know him well, too, after he won the
concurrent men's Masters competition with a success at 4.30 / 14-1 1/2.
   "It's lots of fun vaulting here, just as it is in the Armory," said Simonet, 35, who took the silver medal in his age bracket at the 2013 World Masters Championships in Brazil.
   "And to beat Lawrence Johnson, too, that's something."
  At 40, Johnson, of Virginia Beach, Va. - the silver medalist at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games and still the U.S. collegiate record-holder at 5.98 / 19-7 1/2 - loves vaulting as much as ever and, like Simonet,  coaches an array of youngsters.
  He's just not in the shape he once was
  "Last time I was in a real meet was 2004," he said.  "In 2012, I was on a bike and a car
knocked me off the road.  That was quite a setback, I had some injuries.
   "And getting ready for this one, I didn't do much more than jogging and stretching.
  "So, considering everything, I guess I did OK."
    At Seaside Heights, the man who once flirted with 20-foot leaps, reached 4.15 / 13-7 1/2.
   Snaring third in the Masters category was Mark Cottarzo of Warren, N.J.
   After some two decades away from vaulting, this former N.J. state high school
champion at Edison High and East Coast Conference titlist at Rider University - where
he soared 15 feet - has returned to vaulting thanks to his daughter, Sophia.
   Sophia Cottrazo, a sophomore at The Pingry High School (where her Dad
is a coach), is now one of New Jersey's most promising young vaulters.
   "It's Sophia who got me back," said her Dad.  "I can see how much she loves it.
So I decided to join her, and now I'm hooked on it all over again."
   To make all this possible - it's the largest event of its kind in America - Vertical Adventures CEO Mike Pascuzzo and his team  set up a pair of  runways and landing pits on the sands at Sheridan and Sherman avenues, as well as a third runway for warming up.
 These elite women and Masters vaulters thus kicked off a three-day show on the beach.
Over 300 vaulters of all ages and skill levels will  compete in the meet through Sunday's windup session.
   The whole game plan, as Pascuzzo put it,  was that "if people aren't coming out to the track,
you've got to bring track to the people."
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