Top 10 Stories Of 2017, #7: Mia Manson Breaks The US Freshman Pole Vault Record


Mia Manson got a nice clearance at Great Southwest, but it was a stepping stone and not the record.

It was an ongoing thing most of the year. First in indoor season. Later, it came up in outdoor season.

Mia Manson spent a great deal of her freshman year--and especially the 2017 part of it--chasing one or the other freshman pole vault records.

It began with the indoor record. It's difficult to say exactly when the existing record of 12-9 actually started becoming a serious thought in Manson household, but it certainly couldn't have been too terribly deep into the season.

Manson hit 11-8 at the National Pole Vault Summit in mid January. By the end of the month, she'd cleared 12-7.5 at the USATF Colorado Indoor Championships. With a solid month of indoor vaulting left on the schedule, prospects looked good, Very good, in fact. 

But, February was a month of oh-so-close. Manson got 12-0 at the Air Force High School Open. Then 12-4 at the ATB Last Chance Pole Vault meet. That wasn't quite the last chance, though. Extending her indoor season into March, Manson made the trip to New Balance Nationals Indoor, but only cleared 11-8.5 there.

Perhaps the drill of so many meets was wearing her down--just a little.

With the switch to outdoor season, the freshman record hiked its way up the standards a bit to 13-3.

Manson got plenty of whacks at the record. Her best clearance in March was a 12-8 at the Broomfield Shootout. Three meets in April yielded a best mark of 12-3 at the Boulder County Championships.

Suddenly, things weren't looking quite as bright as they had been. Manson seemed stuck at 12-something. Being stuck isn't always a physical thing. It's very nearly always at least partly a mental thing as well. And, the latter can often prove to be a lot more unyielding.

May brought three more pole vault meets, and Manson topped out at 12-6 at the Colorado State Track and Field Championships. Still 12-something.

The summer club season opened, and Manson stayed busy. Her best June clearance of 12-7.5 came at Great Southwest. But the season seemed to run out of gas a little by the end of the month. Her last meet in June and first meet in July both ended up several inches short of 12 feet.

Maybe it just wasn't meant to be.

Then, in the middle of July, came an encouraging breakthrough. At the MackTrack Elite meet, Manson finally broke through the 13-foot barrier with a 13-0.75. If that had come during indoor season...

The Rocky Mountain State Games came and went, and it was back to old frustrations for Manson. She ended up a bit short of 12 feet at that meet.

That left the USATF Junior Olympic National Championship meet, and possibly a few late summer ATB meets as her lone remaining possibilities.

Evidently, Manson preferred a larger stage than the ATB meets offered. That, and volleyball season was rapidly approaching. The USATF meet would be held at the University of Kansas. Coincidentally, or not, that's where Manson's father vaulted in college. And the stage seemed large enough.

It isn't exactly the same stadium as it used to be, but Mia Manson did manage to find enough echoes to awaken just the same. By the end of the competition, Manson had cleared 4.07m. If you need help with the conversion to feet and inches, it is officially 13-4, though it actually calculates a bit closer to 13-4.25. 

After seven months of chasing, one of the freshman girls pole vault records finally wore a Manson name. It certainly isn't the first, and it probably won't be the last, pole vault record to wear that name.


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