Mack uses UCS Spirit pole to win drama-packed men’s pole vault | NevadaAppeal.com

Mack uses UCS Spirit pole to win drama-packed men’s pole vault

SACRAMENTO – Some good strategy, coupled with a couple of clutch jumps late helped Tim Mack win a drama-packed men’s pole vault at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials on Sunday.

Mack was successful on a do-or-die clearance at 19-feet, 2 1/2 inches and then followed that up by making his first attempt at 19-4 1/2 to equal his personal record and clinch the gold on a 96-degree day at Sacramento State University’s Alex G. Spanos Sports Complex.

“That was unbelievably exciting,” Mack said. “Everybody came here to jump today. You could never turn your head and think, ‘OK, I’ve got it easy now.’ It was pretty much anybody’s ball game. There were 10 people who could have easily been on that team.”

Toby Stevenson – whose best of 19-8 1/2 this year ranks as the second best mark in American history – finished second on this day with a 19-2 1/4 clearance.

And yes, Mack won using a pole manufactured in Carson City by UCS Spirit.

“That was very exciting,” said Steve Chappell, general manager for UCS Spirit. “There were so many lead changes, so many passes and so many made third-attempts, it was hard to follow.”

Hard, yet exciting.

Interestingly enough, Lawrence Johnson was the only vaulter to clear 19 feet when he won gold at the 2000 Olympic Trials in Sacramento. This time, eight athletes were still in the hunt when the bar was raised to 19-2 1/4.

Mack appeared to be in trouble after Tye Harvey, Derek Miles and Stevenson cleared their first attempts at 19-0 1/4. Mack missed his first attempt, at which point he decided to pass to the next height.

“I was like fourth or fifth at the time, so it wasn’t going to help me any to make that height,” Mack said.

But the one miss followed by a pass left him with only two chances to clear 19-2 1/4. He missed the first, but then cleared his do-or-die attempt to stay alive.

The strategy paid off, even though Mack still trailed after Stevenson made his first try at 19-2 1/4.

But the tables were turned when the bar went to the next level. Mack cleared 19-4 1/4 on his first attempt, raising his arms overhead as he cleared the bar.

Mack finished his day by missing three attempts at an American record height of 19-9 3/4. His winning height was also a half-inch short below the Olympic Trials record of 19-4 3/4 set by Kory Tarpenning in 1988.

Derek Miles, 31, a hometown product, edged Tye Harvey for third-place and a berth on the U.S. Olympic team. They both cleared 19-0 1/4, but the No. 3 spot was awarded to Miles based on fewer misses.

“It’s exciting, a dream come true,” said Miles, who missed a trip to the Sydney Olympics when he lost a jump-off in 2000. “I know this stadium so well. I jumped here in high school (while at Bella Vista High). It was nice to be at home at my parents’ house this week, staying in the room I grew up in.”

Earlier, Harvey passed after two misses at 18-10 1/4 and cleared his one chance at 19 to keep his Olympic hopes alive. Nick Hysong, the 2000 Olympic gold medalist in Sydney, finished fifth at 18-10 1/4.

Notes … Luke Woydziak of the Pacific Bay Track Club, whose family lives in Reno, will attempt to earn his ticket to Athens today at 5:30 p.m. when the men’s hammer throw finals are staged. Woydziak was ninth in Saturday’s qualifying with a throw of 224-1. … Sacramento will remain in the national track and field spotlight over the next three years because the NCAA track and field committee last week awarded the 2005, 2006 and 2007 Division I outdoor men’s and women’s championships to Sacramento State. Sacramento State was also the site of the 2003 NCAA Division I national championships.

Contact Dave Price at dprice@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1220.