Another Weekend, Another Record for Stephen F. Austin Vaulter Demi Payne

The Year of the Vault continued in full force this weekend, as Demi Payne of Stephen F. Austin obliterated her collegiate indoor women’s pole vault record at New Mexico on Saturday with a huge leap of 15-7 (4.75m).

Not only has she left the collegiate record book in wreckage this year, but she’s now vaulted into some of the same rarified air breathed by such vault legends as indoor world record holder and 2012 Olympic Champion Jenn Suhr of the United States, and two-time Olympic champion and outdoor world record holder Yelena Isinbaeva of Russia.

How so, you might ask? Follow along below as we break down her historic Saturday by the numbers.

The Winning Height in Meters
Her winning clearance of 15-7 (4.75m) was far and away the winner at New Mexico over former collegiate record holder Kaitlin Petrillose of Texas, who herself cleared 15-1 (4.60m) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, last March for the 2014 NCAA title. Not counting her own, this is the second time Petrillose has been on hand to watch the collegiate record fall, as she was defeated by Sandi Morris of Arkansas last weekend in the Razorback’s very temporary possession of the collegiate record.


Number of First-Attempt Clearances for Collegiate Records the Past Two Weekends
Last weekend she broke the collegiate record with a 15-2.1/4 (4.63m) vault at Texas A&M on her first attempt, and she duplicated that feat not once but twice today. She went up and over 15-3 (4.65m) without any trouble, and just moments later cleared 15-7 (4.75m) unscathed before calling it a day. Sandi Morris cleared her former record 15-1.1/2 (4.61m) on her third attempt, but four of the past five records have been set on first attempts: Payne’s three and Petrillose’s clearance from 2014.


Number of Times the Collegiate Record Had Been Broken Between 2002 and 2014
Arizona’s Amy Linnen broke the collegiate record twice in 2002, ending her run with an NCAA title-winning clearance of 14-10.1/4 (4.53m). It took nearly nine years for the record to fall, with Arkansas’ Tina Sutej breaking it by one centimeter in February of 2011 and then again in February of 2012 by another centimeter. More than two years later, Petrillose put her stamp on the record books. The point is, the collegiate record has been broken more times in the past two weekends than in the prior 12 years.


Improvement in Centimeters From Her Career-Best as a Collegian at Kansas to Today
Check out Payne’s TFRRS profile from her days as a Kansas Jayhawk. She was a good vaulter while in Lawrence, recording a best of 4.25m during her final 2013 indoor season before ceasing competition as she prepared to give birth to her daughter Charlee Taylor, who was born October 22 of that year. Now take a look at her Stephen F. Austin TFRRS profile. You’ll see jumps of 4.30m at Akron and her former collegiate record 4.63m from Texas A&M last weekend (plus a clearance of 14-9/4.49m to win the Texas Vault Expo in early January that didn’t count for qualifying).


Her Spot on the All-Time U.S. Indoor Performers List
Tied for No. 3, that is, with Kylie Hutson, who has an equal jump from the same venue in 2013. When Payne woke up this morning, she sat at No. 8 on that all-time American list. In the span of a morning’s work, she surpassed four of those names. She now only trails the great Suhr and Stacy Dragila, the 2000 Olympic Champion and a two-time World Champion.


Her Spot on the All-Time World Performers List
Again, tied for this spot. Her performance on Saturday drew her even with both Hutson and Russia’s Yuliya Golubchikova, who achieved this height in 2008. She now resides just one centimeter outside the all-time top-10 world performers list, as Monika Pyrek of Poland jumped 4.76m in 2006.


Number of American Women Who Have Jumped Higher in the Month of January
While Payne’s vault didn’t quite propel her to the very top of the overall U.S. Indoor list, her rapid ascent has netted her another distinction: highest American vaulter in the month of January. Not even Olympic Champions Suhr and Dragila have leapt this high in the first month of the year. Suhr has twice cleared 4.71m in January, in 2008 and 2009, while Dragila soared over that same height in 2004.


Number of Women in the History of the World Who Have Jumped Higher in the Month of January
Not only have Suhr and Dragila not gone higher, but only three women in the history of the world have. The all-time January best of 4.87m is held by Holly Bleasdale of Great Britain from 2012, just one week after Germany’s Silke Spiegelburg had set the now-former January best of 4.77m. Isinbaeva had previously owned the distinction with a leap of 4.76m in 2004. Notable about Isinbaeva’s performance is that she was approximately 21 years and seven months old; Payne is just over 23 years old.

What can we expect next from Payne? Stephen F. Austin is scheduled to be back in New Mexico on February 6/7 for the New Mexico Collegiate Classic, and is in Houston next weekend. It’s worth noting that Payne may travel elsewhere, as this trip to New Mexico was not on SFA’s online schedule.



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