Jenn Suhr’s first United States title came in 2005 when she was still in college at Roberts Wesleyan, just 10 months after she started pole vaulting. On Friday, Suhr won her 15th national title with a jump of 4.60 meters (15 feet, 1 inch) at the USATF Outdoor Championships at Sacramento State University in California, passing Marion Jones for the most U.S. track and field titles
To put Suhr’s feat into perspective, fellow American track and field star Sanya Richards-Ross has eight U.S. titles and Lolo Jones holds five.
Rick Suhr, Jenn’s coach and husband, said passing Jones for the most U.S. titles rounds out her résumé.
“When you can go by Marion Jones, you’re really doing something,” said Rick. “You don’t understand how much fighting goes on to win one of these. It never comes easy. I think any Rochesterian would proud to know that the best pole vaulter in the world comes from western New York.”
Jenn Suhr beat out Sandi Morris, who was the only other vaulter to reach 4.55 meters (14-11). Becky Hilliday and Kaitlin Petrillose reached 4.45 meters (14-7) to finish third and fourth, respectively.
Jenn Suhr now has the 11 highest pole vaults for an American and has the highest vault in the world four years in a row. Yet, she says winning the U.S. titles never gets old.
“Each one comes with a different challenge and they’re all hard to come by,” said Jenn Suhr. “I never take any of them for granted.”
Friday, Suhr’s main challenges came from the size of the field and the weather. She said she still had some nerves going into the event and she didn’t want to wear herself out in the California heat.
“It was a big field with 18 jumpers and I kept looking at the forecast for California with 95 degree heat. Being from upstate New York, I’m not used to that kind of heat,” said Jenn Suhr. “There really was a strategy because I didn’t want to wear myself out in the heat. I took shorter runs earlier to try and conserve my energy.”
When she competed at the Adidas Grand Prix two weeks ago, Jenn said she had switched to a lighter carbon pole. One of the main reasons for switching was to improve endurance.
Jenn Suhr will be returning to London, where she won an Olympic gold medal in 2012, to jump next month at Buckingham Palace, the official residence of the Queen Elizabeth II. It’s an experience Rick Suhr said was an honor and incredibly prestigious.
Earlier this month, Jenn Suhr jumped in front of Macy’s on Broadway in New York City.
“To do it in the same year, jumping at New York City and jumping at Buckingham is amazing,” Jenn Suhr said. “It’s incredible to see the places that pole vaulting has taken me.”
Jenn Suhr’s next competitive event will be July 11-12 at the Sainsbury’s Glasgow Grand Prix in Scotland.
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