Blast From The Past: Tommy Skipper Bio

Tommy Skipper
Position: Pole Vault
Other Position: NCAA Champion
Height: 6’2″
Year: Senior
City/State: Sandy, Ore.
High School: Sandy
Experience: 2 Letters

Returns to Duck fold for his senior season in 2006-07 as Oregon’s second-ever four-time NCAA champion, following the lead of distance great Steve Prefontaine (3-mile/5,000m 1970-73). Became first Duck to win the same NCAA event indoors and outdoors the same season in 2006, and added his first indoor title as a sophomore in 2005. Ranks first for UO and in the Pac-10 and seventh all-time on the collegiate outdoor pole vault list, thanks to his opening clearance at 19-0 (5.79m) in the 2006 Oregon Preview in March 2006. As a freshman in 2004, he extended his family’s storied Duck legacy with a record-breaking collegiate debut both indoors and outdoors. Upped personal best by 7 1/2 inches in the pole vault that season, and rewrote UO’s pole vault record by 3 3/4 inches (18-10 1/4), formerly held by Olympian Kory Tarpenning (18-6 1/2, 1985). In other Duck all-time rankings, currently stands eighth in the decathlon (7,589), and is seven feet away from the 10th position in the javelin (215-2 / 10th is 222-2). At other points of 2004 outdoor season, made Olympic Trials appearance, initially broke Pac-10 record in West Region win (18-10 1/4), and also added Pac-10 crowns in pole vault and decathlon. One of the most accomplished performers in Oregon and national prep history, the 2003 High School Athlete of the Year and outdoor high school pole vault record holder (18-3) won four Oregon 4A state titles (3 pole vault, 1 100) among his 10, top-eight honors in the sprints, jumps, hurdles and javelin.

2005-06: NCAA Champion (Outdoor / Indoor Pole Vault). Capped collegiate outdoor season with second NCAA Outdoor Championships win (18-8 1/4) in as many appearances. Two weeks later, finished top-three in USA Outdoor Championships (third-tie, 18-4 1/2) – an impressive feat considering seven of the top-25 vaulters in the world in 2006 were Americans. A month before in mid-May, claimed second Pac-10 Championships win (18-0 1/2), and followed with runner-up finish in West Regional (18-1) behind eventual NCAA runner-up on his home track in Provo, Utah. Opened outdoor campaign in record fashion with a first-attempt clearance at 19-0 (5.79m) in the Oregon Preview in mid-March, a week after he won his second NCAA indoor crown (18-6 1/2). Added his third Mountain Pacific Championships indoor title and tied his indoor school record (18-8 3/4) – a mark that ranked him first among collegians, third in the U.S. and 13th on the world season best list. Altogether, won six of his 10 collegiate appearances in 2006 (3 of 6 outdoor; 3 of 4 indoor), and cleared 18 feet in seven of those events (5 outdoors / 2 indoors). Ended outdoor season ranked first in the collegiate ranks, fourth in the U.S. (behind two Pac-10 alumni) and 17th in world based on outdoor season bests.  Personal/Season Bests: Outdoors – Pole Vault – Outdoors – 5.79m (19-0) (PR), Oregon Preview, Eugene, Ore. (3/18/06); Javelin – 60.12m (197-3), Pac-10 Championships, Eugene, Ore. (5/13/06); Indoors – 5.71m (18-8 3/4) (PR-t), Mountain Pacific Championships, Seattle (2/25/06).

2004-05: NCAA Champion (Indoor Pole Vault). Endured a tale of two seasons as a sophomore that included an NCAA pole vault title indoors (18-4 1/2), followed by knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus that forced him to miss most of the outdoor season. After resuming practice at the end of April, posted pole vault marks in two outdoor meets – the USA Championships (ninth-tie, 17-8 1/2) and Oregon Twilight (third, 17-0 3/4). Contributed points to team win in Pac-10 Championships with his second straight top-eight finish in javelin (seventh, 207-3) off virtually no practice. Indoors, validated top seed status with first NCAA indoor title (18-4 1/2) by a four-inch advantage. Led collegiate indoor rankings thanks to his season best from the Husky Classic in Seattle in mid-February (18-6 3/4) – two inches off his school record from ’04 (18-8 3/4). Won five of his seven indoor appearances and led collegians in his two other appearances in the USA Indoor Championships (second, 18-2 1/2) and Pole Vault Summit (second-tie, 18-4 1/2). Seasonal Bests: Outdoors – Pole Vault – 5.40m (17-8 1/2), USA Championships, Carson, Calif. (6/23/05). Javelin – 63.18m (207-3), Pac-10 Championships, Los Angeles (5/15/05). Indoors – Pole Vault – 5.66m (18-6 3/4), Husky Classic, Seattle (2/12/05).

2003-2004: NCAA Pole Vault Champion (Outdoors)/NCAA Runner-up (Indoors): Capped his record-breaking season as the youngest entry in the U.S. Olympic Trials’ pole vault field (14th-prelims, 17-8 1/2) in mid-July in Sacramento, Calif., and missed the final by two positions. Opened postseason at home in the elite Prefontaine Classic (eighth, 18-4 1/2) at Hayward Field in late June and defeated the returning NCAA champion Eric Eshbach of Nebraska by 3 3/4 inches (18-4 1/2). Ended collegiate season with an NCAA title in the pole vault (18-8 1/4) with his second-highest height ever. Qualified for the NCAA finale with a school and Pac-10 record performance in the West Regional Championships (first, 18-10 1/4) and broke the former mark of Stanford Olympic silver medalist Toby Stevenson (18-9 1/4, 2000 in Eugene). In mid-May, he posted an outdoor then-personal best in the Pac-10 Championships (first, 18-3 1/4), while he simultaneously scored in the javelin (fifth, 215-2). The week prior, won collegiate decathlon debut (first, 7,589) as Ducks went 1-3-4-5 in the event, although he subsequently declined an NCAA automatic invite since he topped the 7,500-point barrier to focus solely on the pole vault in the NCAA finale in Austin, Texas. Also tried to boost team’s scoring chances in league high jump but no-heighted at opening height as team eventually claimed runner-up finish. During regular season, picked up home wins in the Oregon Preview (17-6 1/2) and Pepsi Team Invitational (17-5). Overall, competed 10 times outdoors in the pole vault and cleared 18 feet four times after he had cleared 18 feet twice as a prep (18-3 and 18-0 1/4 as a senior). Ended outdoor pole vault season ranked first in the Pac-10, region and NCAA, 11th in the U.S. and 21st in the world based on season bests. Indoors, soared over 18 feet in four of five competitions, including a runner-up finish (18-4 1/2) in the NCAA Championships behind the returning NCAA champ Brad Walker, a 19-foot vaulter from Washington who needed a 7 1/4-inch season best to win (18-8 1/4). In early February, broke Kory Tarpenning’s school record for the first time with indoor personal best in the United Heritage Invitational (first, 18-8 3/4) – the top collegiate mark of the indoor campaign. Also picked up regular season wins in the Invitational (18-0 1/2) and the Mountain Pacific Championships (18-1 1/2). In collegiate year-end decathlon rankings, stood seventh nationally in the NCAA (and second among frosh) and first in the region and Pac-10, and in the javelin ranked 41st in the NCAA, 13th in the region and seventh in the Pac-10 by season bests. At year-end UO awards banquet, received team’s George Scharpf Outstanding Athlete Award.

Prep: Closed the book on a storybook 2003 senior season as the Track and Field News Boys Athlete of the Year after a record-breaking senior campaign. He claimed his second outdoor national title in June in the USA Junior Championships pole vault (18-0 1/2), the same month he broke the national prep record by 3/4 inches to win the Golden West Invitational (18-3). Indoors as a senior, he won the national title (5.28m, 17-3 3/4) and went for a national indoor record of 17-7 but broke his pole (and subsequently his left thumb) on his first attempt and declined further tries. At season’s end, he led the national outdoor prep scene by 11 1/2 inches (the second-ranked season best was 17-4 1/2), and indoors by a 2 3/4-inch margin (second was 17-1). His prep personal best of 18-3 from ’03 ranked 15th in the U.S. at year’s end and met the 2004 Olympic Trials ‘B’ standard (5.50m, 18-0 1/2). As a junior, he also led the nation in the pole vault and was a prep All-American. He upped the state record in early June in his win in the Oregon-Washington Meet of Champions (17-7 1/2), and also in his second state meet win (then-state meet record 17-0). Other notable season wins and 17-foot pole vault efforts came in the Golden West Invite (17-2), USA Junior Nationals (17-6 1/2) and Sandy Invitational (17-0 1/4). He ended the year atop the prep season best list (17-6 1/2) with a 6 1/2-inch lead, and indoors ranked fifth with a season best of 16-0. As a sophomore, he ranked fourth nationally (and tops among non-seniors) with an outdoor best of 16-10, and indoors he ranked in a tie for second and was again the top non-senior (16-0 3/4). As a freshman he tied for 14th on the national season best list (16-0) – the best among freshmen or sophomores that year. At the state prep level, he led the Sandy High School Pioneers to the 2003 state 4A team title thanks to top-two finishes in three events. In only his second meet back after a broken thumb (with his first meet a narrow third-attempt, opening-height clearance at 14-0 two weeks before in the district qualifier), he won the pole vault (state meet record 17-7) and 100 (10.88), and took second in the 200 (21.86). As a junior, he set a then-state record in the pole vault and won by a two-foot margin (first, 17-0) and also scored second in the 100 (10.83) behind UO teammate Jordan Kent and also placed in the 300 hurdles (sixth, 39.21). In the 2002 state rankings, he ranked first in the javelin (211-0), sixth in the long jump (22-0 1/2) and tied for seventh in the high jump (6-4). His sophomore season in 2001, he won the state pole vault and tied the state meet record (16-6, only four inches short of his then-personal best), and added top-three finishes in the 300 hurdles (second, 39.17) and javelin (third, 211-9). As a freshman in 2000, he took second in the pole vault behind former Duck All-American Trevor Woods at the same final mark but with more misses at a one-inch new state meet record (second, then-six-inch PR 16-6), and also placed in the javelin (10th, 175-1). His high school coach Anouxa Vixathep was a Pac-10 scorer for the Ducks (long jump, seventh, 22-9 3/4, 1998) and owned a personal best of 23-9 from his senior season in ’98. High School: Sandy ’03.

Personal: Followed the path of his older brother Art who as a prep senior in 1988 was a national prep record holder in the javelin (259-10) and TFN national boy’s athlete of the year. As a collegian, the former Duck school javelin record holder (251-8) won one NCAA title, two All-America awards and a Pac-10 title from 1989-92. At the national level, he was a two-time Olympic Trials qualifier with a best finish of fifth in 1992. He was also a 1993 World Championships qualifier after taking second in the 1993 USA Championships (76.60m, 251-4). The elder Skipper was tragically killed in a small plane crash near his home in Sandy in Clackamas County in October 2001. Undeclared major.

Personal Bests
Pole Vault – 19-0 (5.79m), Oregon Preview, Eugene, Ore., March 18, 2006
Decathlon – 7,589 points, Pac-10 Championships, Tucson, Ariz., May 7-8, 2004
Javelin – 215-2, Pac-10 Championships, Tucson, Ariz., May 15, 2004
100 – 10.83 (prep 2002)
200 – 21.86 (prep 2003)
300H – 39.17 (prep 2001)
LJ – 22-10 1/4 (prep)
HJ – 6-4 (prep 2002)

USA Championships Performances
2006 – Outdoor – 3rd-tie, 5.60m (18-4 1/2), Indianapolis, Ind., 6/24/06
2005 – Outdoor – 9th-tie, 5.40m (17-8 1/2), Carson, Calif., 6/23/05
2005 – Indoor – 2nd, 5.55m (18-2 1/2), Boston, 2/27/05
2004 – Outdoor (Olympic Trials) – 14th-prelims, 5.40m (17-8 1/2), Sacramento, Calif., 7/9/04

NCAA Championship Performances
2006 – Outdoors – Pole Vault, 1st, 5.70m (18-8 1/4)
2006 – Indoors – Pole Vault, 1st, 5.65m (18-6 1/2)
2005 – Indoors – Pole Vault, 1st, 5.60m (18-4 1/2)
2004 – Outdoors – Pole Vault, 1st, 5.70m (18-8 1/4)
2004 – Indoors – Pole Vault, 2nd, 5.60m (18-4 1/2)

West Regional Championships
2006 – Pole Vault, 2nd, 5.51m (18-1)
2005 – Pole Vault,  No Height
2004 – Pole Vault, 1st, 5.75m (18-10 1/4)

Pac-10 Championship Performances
2006 – Pole Vault, 1st, 5.50m (18-0 1/2); Javelin, 11th, 60.12m (197-3)
2005 – Pole Vault, No Height; Javelin – 7th, 63.18m (207-3)
2004 – Pole Vault, 1st, 5.57m (18-3 1/4); Decathlon, 1st, 7,589; Javelin, 5th, 65.58m (215-2)
Skipper’s Top Oregon Pole Vault Performances

Pole Vault-Outdoors
5.79m (19-0), 1st, Oregon Preview, Eugene, Ore., 3/18/06
5.75m (18-10 1/4), 1st, West Regional, Northridge, Calif., 5/29/04
5.70m, (18-8 1/4), 1st, final, NCAA Championships, Sacramento, Calif., 6/9/06
5.70m (18-8 1/4), 1st, NCAA, Austin, Texas, 6/12/04
5.60m (18-4 1/2), 3rd-tie, USA Championships, Indianapolis, Ind., 6/24/06
5.60m (18-4 1/2), 8th, Pre Classic, Eugene, Ore., 6/19/04
5.57m (18-3 1/4), 1st, Pac-10 Championships, Tucson, Ariz., 5/14/04
5.51m (18-1), 2nd, NCAA West Regional Championships, Provo, Utah, 5/26/06
5.50m (18-0 1/2), 1st, Pac-10 Championships, Eugene, Ore., 5/14/06

Pole Vault-Indoors
5.71m (18-8 3/4), 1st, Mountain Pacific Championships, Seattle, Wash., 2/25/06
5.71m (18-8 3/4), 1st, United Heritage Invitational, Boise, Idaho, 2/7/04
5.66m (18-6 3/4), 1st, Husky Classic, Seattle, 2/12/05
5.65m (18-6 1/2), 1st, NCAA Indoor Championships, Fayetteville, Ark., 3/10/06
5.60m (18-6 1/2), 1st, Invite, Boise, Idaho, 1/29/05
5.60m (18-4 1/2), 1st, NCAA Championships, Fayetteville, Ark., 3/11/05
5.60m (18-4 1/2), 2nd, NCAA Championships, Fayetteville, Ark., 3/12/04
5.55m (18-4 1/2), 2nd-t, Pole Vault Summit, Reno, Nevada, 1/22/05
5.55m (18-2 1/2), 2nd, USA Indoor Champs, Boston, 2/27/05
5.53m (18-1 3/4), 1st, Mountain Pacific Championships, 2/27/04
5.50m (18-0 1/2), 1st, UW Last Chance Qualifier, Seattle, 3/5/05
5.50m (18-0 1/2), 1st, Invitational, 1/31/04


skipper vaulter magazine
skipper vaulter magazine



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