AUSTIN, Texas – The women’s pole vault competition at the NCAA Division I West Preliminary Rounds on Friday was unlike any that came before it. It featured a five-plus-hour weather delay, followed by a near restart, only to see another two-hour weather delay.
With 17 vaulters remaining in the quest to trim the 48-woman field to 12 who would advance to the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore., athletes sat through another lengthy delay while a damaged pole vault standard was replaced. Due to severe rain storms in the area over the course of the day, the winds along the runway switched from tailwinds to headwinds.
Yet somehow – more than 10 hours after it started – the event’s result was familiar to those who have followed the North Dakota State women’s track & field program in recent years.
Put simply, Leslie Brost was successful.
The senior from Watertown, S.D., was one of 11 women to clear 13-05.75 (4.11m) and punch their ticket to the NCAA Finals in Eugene on June 7. It will be the sixth NCAA Championships appearance for the six-time Summit League pole vault champion.
“I feel like not a whole lot else could have gone wrong – the rain, headwinds, delays, the standards broke,” said Brost. “I can’t really compare it to anything. It’s the first time I’ve ever jumped in any situation like this. I’m just relieved. I’m glad today is over.”
Thirty minutes into the competition that began at 1:15 p.m. – before Brost had even taken her first jump – the stadium was cleared as torrential downpours moved into the Austin area. Seven hours of weather delay passed before Brost was back on the runway to take her first attempt.
She missed on her first two attempts at 13-01.75 (4.01m) before clearing on her final chance. It was a roller coaster of emotions, according to Brost.
“After the initial run-throughs and after the meet started, I was really amped up. And then while we were waiting, and waiting, and waiting, I actually was really calm. Everybody was going through the exact same thing I was going through.”
“If I sit here and let my heart race for however long – not knowing how long or if we were even going to jump today – that wasn’t going to work.”
It was 11:15 p.m. before the 12 women advancing to the NCAA Championships had been finalized.
Brost qualified for the 2009 NCAA Outdoor Championships through the previous NCAA Regional format, but she had struggled at the West Preliminary Rounds the last two seasons, taking 13th by tiebreaker in 2010 and tying for 16th in 2011. It was enough to make Brost reflect following the 10-hour competition on Friday.
“I’m more exhausted and relieved than I ever remember being,” she said. “The way everything played out today, I’m just grateful.”
On June 7, Brost will be one of 24 pole vaulters contending in the NCAA Finals in Eugene. She’ll be hoping to add an outdoor All-America honor to the indoor one she claimed with a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships in 2012.
Brost has recent experience in Eugene as well. She placed ninth and was the highest collegiate finisher at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials held at Hayward Field.
“I’m excited to go back to Eugene – I had so much fun there last summer at the Trials,” said Brost. “I’m pumped, I’m ready to go back, and I feel like I’m ready to jump high. It’s going to be fun.”
Buell, Bethany JR South Dakota 4.11mq 13-05.75
1 Foreman, Stephanie SR Arkansas State 4.11mq 13-05.75
1 Guenther, Christen SR Kansas 4.11mq 13-05.75
4 Haarklau, Katrine SO Missouri 4.11mq 13-05.75
5 Riebold, Jade JR Eastern Illinois 4.11mq 13-05.75
6 Grove, Emily SO South Dakota 4.11mq 13-05.75
7 Bartnovskaya, Natalia JR Kansas 4.11mq 13-05.75
7 Miller, Logan SR Washington 4.11mq 13-05.75
7 Masterson, Natasha SR Texas 4.11mq 13-05.75
7 Petrillose, Kaitlin FR Texas 4.11mq 13-05.75
11 Brost, Leslie SR North Dakota St. 4.11mq 13-05.75
12 Richartz, Stephanie JR Illinois 4.01mq 13-01.75 adv jump off