Dragila Vaults To New Heights

Stacy Dragila signals her status after setting another world record for women's pole vaulting.
Olympic champion Stacy Dragila raised the world record in the women's pole vault to 15 feet, 5 inches on Saturday, twice breaking her own indoor world marks.

Dragila, an assistant coach at Idaho State, cleared the record height on her third attempt as a crowd of about 7,000 hometown fans and high school athletes cheered during a Golden Spike Tour meet.

"Some athletes like to compete on the road, but I'm so thankful to be home," Dragila said. "I get to sleep in my own bed, so I got plenty of rest. I got to cook my own meals."

The height initially was announced as 15-5 1/2, but organizers later said the conversion from 4.7 meters puts the record in the book at 15-5. Dragila, who also holds the world outdoor record of 15-2 1/4, missed three attempts at 15-9.

The Golden Spike meet was sandwiched into the Simplot Games, one of the nation's largest high school meets. Dragila had a receptive audience, and she had them cheering all day.

"To do it here and for the kids to see it, it was a great opportunity," Dragila said. "To set a world record in front of them, it's something that is few and far between for them."

She cleared 15-3 1/2 on her first try at that height, breaking the world record of 15-3 she had set in Pocatello on Feb. 9. On Feb. 2, she cleared 15-2 1/4 at the Millrose Games in New York City, breaking her record by a half inch.

On the second record leap, clearing 15-5, Dragila brushed the bar. It wobbled a few times but stayed up.

"I knew it wasn't the greatest of jumps. I know I nicked it," she said. "Sometimes the greatest jumps come with a little drama."

Dragila bounded on the mat and leaped to her feet, raising her arms in triumph and blowing kisses. Then she dashed across the Holt Arena track to hug her coach, Dave Neilsen, and her husband, Rent.

After the awards ceremony, Dragila took a victory lap, reaching into a box of flowers and throwing the bouquets into the crowd. It was her way of thanking the fans who turned out to support her.

"When I go grocery shopping, I sure don't get in and out anymore," she said.

Dragila has been in a rhythm this month. Before the season, Neilsen suggested she adopt more of a running stride on the runway, and she credited the recent footwook change for the records this month.

"I can control the run so much better," Dragila said. "There wasn't so much variation in my step at takeoff. It just made things so much more consistent on the runway."

She also changed to a longer and stiffer pole, which is generating better height. But it was apparent on her tries at 15-9 that she hasn't mastered the coordination needed to go higher.

"I told Dave, if I break it today, let's put it up there even higher," Dragila said. "I don't know if I'm going to get hurt tomorrow. Maybe I'll break my leg, and then I'd really kick myself in the tail fonot trying it."

Before winning the gold medal in the Sydney Olympics, Dragila cleared 15-5 in last year's Olympic trials on a warmup jump. While that was an outdoor venue, she had topped 15-5 in practice and knew it was possible.

Next up is 16 feet, Dragila's goal for several years.

"With some more hard work at practice, I think it's very doable," she said.

Dragila sees it as just another goal to conquer. She still wants to clear 16 feet, and she predicted the record will be broken again, either at the indoor nationals in Atlanta on March 2-3 or during the outdoor season.

"It's going to get exciting in the next few weeks," Dragila said.

Other women's winners included Melissa Morrison in the 60 hurdles (8.02 seconds) and Angela Williams in the 60 dash (7.16). Olympic silver medalist Adam Nelson won the men's shot put with an effort of 68 feet, 9 inches.

Terrell Trammell, the Olympic silver medalist in the 100, won the men's 60 hurdles (7.68 seconds) and 60 dash (6.46) after arriving in Pocatello shortly after 7 a.m. because of delayed flights.

"I was tired, but I thought I'd do the hurdle race and see how it felt," he said. "It was God. I'm just thrilled I was blessed to go out her and run well."

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