DES MOINES, Iowa — Sam Kendricks is the undisputed king of pole vault in the United States.
At the 2019 USATF Outdoor Championships, part of the Team USA Champions Series, presented by Xfinity, the reigning world champion and Olympic bronze medalist soared to his sixth national title, literally raising the bar to 6.06 meters above Drake University’s blue oval.
It set a new American record, breaking Armand Duplantis’ 6.05 set last August (Duplantis competes for Sweden but holds dual citizenship with the U.S.). It is also now the world-leading height – and the best vault completed outdoors since 1994. Kendricks also claimed a record sixth consecutive pole vault national title.
Not bad for the guy whose father once called him “the worst pole vaulter that I ever started coaching.” Kendricks father, Scott, has coached him since he was young.
After Kendricks cleared 6.06 on his second try, his fellow competitors leapt into a pig pile atop him on the mat.
“I saw it coming,” he said. “I looked as I came over the bar, I looked to the left, and I saw that I hit the bar, but I didn’t hit as hard as the one before, and I said that’s going to stay. As I was falling, I was saying they’re about to come tackle me.”