The pole vault has been one of the cornerstone events at the NYRR Millrose Games going back 90 years and once again the fields assembling for February 14 at the Armory New Balance Track & Field Center promise another great aerial show.
Fredonia, New York native Jenn Suhr, the reigning Olympic gold medalist, returns to The Armory for the first time since the 2013 Millrose, when she edged fellow American Kylie Hutson to win at 15 feet, 3 inches because of fewer misses at earlier heights.
Suhr and Hutson own the building record at 15-3. This time, Suhr faces a talented field that includes two more of the top 10 vaulters in the world last year -- American Mary Saxer and Greek champion Ekaterina Stefanidi.
The tradition of men's vaulting at the NYRR Millrose Games, now in its 108th year overall, stretches back to 1925 and includes the most influential names in the sport. Three-time Olympic medalist Bob Richards won 11 consecutive Millrose titles from 1947-57. Earl Bell won six times between 1976 and 1990.
In 2009, Australian Steve Hooker smashed the meet record with 19-8 ½ in Madison Square Garden and then took square aim at the world record with attempts at 20-2.
Nobody has cleared 19 feet at The Armory, at least not yet.
But there is rising talent at the high school level right now and a couple of young stars will be on hand in the junior boys pole vault. Armand "Mondo" Duplantis, the freshman sensation from Lafayette, La., has already broke the national class record for ninth graders by more than a foot and brings a personal best of 16-8.
Mondo Duplantis started breaking world records for his age when he was 7 and is the son of former standout vaulter Greg Duplantis. In his first year of high school vaulting, Duplantis has been one of the most talked-about vaulters in the country this winter.
Tommy Dial of Norman, Okla., the son of 1980s great Joe Dial, is also one of the top high school prospects in the country. Dial cleared 17-1 ½ last year at the Kansas Relays.
And national leader Paolo Benavides, from Franklin High in El Paso, Texas, is a late addition to the field. He cleared 17-6 ½ on Jan. 24 in Albuquerque, N.M.
The 11 boys entered in this year's competition come from seven different states and six of them are state champions.
The junior girls’ pole vault, scheduled for Thursday, February 12 at The Armory, also features six state champions from seven states. Two-time Florida champion Nikki Carroll, who cleared a new personal best 13-0 on Jan. 24, is the top entrant in that field.
Earlier this month, USA Track & Field announced that both the Armory Track Invitational and the NYRR Millrose Games will make up half of this season’s indoor USATF Championship Series. Both meets at The Armory New Balance Track & Field Center are scheduled to be televised nationally by NBC Sports Network (NBCSN): Armory Track Invitational, 4:30-6:30 p.m. January 31 and NYRR Millrose Games 6-8 p.m. USATF.tv will carry live events from both meets as well.
This year’s NYRR Millrose Games promises to be one of the best ever and features the likes of world champion hurdlers Jason Richardson and David Oliver, 2014 World 800m leader Ajee' Wilson along with the “fast and fashionable” Sanya Richards-Ross, who will attempt to break her own Armory Track record of 50.89 in the 400m. Ashton Eaton, the decathlon and indoor pentathlon world record holder, should add plenty of excitement to the New Balance Track and Field Center at The Armory along with many more of the sport’s most decorated athletes yet to be announced.
This marks the fourth NYRR Millrose Games at The Armory and will include the country’s premier professional, college and high school track & field athletes competing on one stage.
Tickets for the NYRR Millrose Games can be purchased at http://Tickets.NYRRMillroseGames.org. Further questions about both meets can be answered by calling The Armory at (212) 923-1803 ext. 7200.