GRINNELL, Iowa – Catherine Street vaulted her way, literally, into Linfield track and field history Friday afternoon, becoming just the third Wildcat woman to claim an individual national crown with her pole vault victory at the NCAA Division III Indoor Track & Field Championships held at Grinnell College’s Charles Benson Bear Recreation and Athletic Center.
Fulfilling national expectations as well as her own dream, Street's achievement came just two days after she was recognized as the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association West Region Women's Field Athlete of the Year.
The DIII indoor record holder in her event, Street was the only competitor to clear the bar at 13 feet, 5¼ inches (4.10 meters). Though four inches off her personal best, the effort was enough to top the national runner-up, defending champion Abigail Schaffer of Moravian, by a slim 1¾-inch margin.
Only eight of 15 pole vaulters remained in the hunt by the time Street entered the mix at 12-7½, choosing to pass on the opening height and two others. She sailed through her first two heights before running into a bit of trouble at 13-1, needing three attempts to cleanly clear the bar.
Street sealed her victory at 13-5¼, mastering the height on her second try. With Schaffer knocked out of contention at the same height, it was now only a matter of how high Street would go.
Attempting to set a meet and personal record, Street missed all three of her attempts at 13-9¾. But with a national title finally in hand after four trips to the indoor national championships, Street’s performance was far from disappointing.
With the victory, she joined Linfield Athletics Hall of Fame inductee Kerrie (O’Sullivan) DuFour and Amber Larsen as the only three female athletes in Wildcat track and field lore to claim individual national titles. DuFour won the indoor high jump in 1996 and Larsen topped the field in the outdoor 400-meter hurdles in 2001.
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