Maui’s Kristine Felix, a freshman at Washington State University, became the first Cougar woman to win the conference championships in the pole vault Sunday at the Pac-12 Track & Field Championships on Cromwell Field at Loker Stadium on the USC campus.
The former Baldwin High School standout and Hawaii state champion cleared the bar at 13-feet 4.25 inches on her first attempt for the win. Junior teammate Kelsey Bueno finished fourth after vaulting a personal best height of 13-0.25. Felix’s mark moved her to third-best in WSU all-time records while Bueno’s mark is tied for sixth-best in WSU history. Felix also eclipsed the school freshman record of 13-2 1/4 by Tamara Diles in 2001.
After passing on her first two heights, 11-6.5, and 12-0.5, Felix cleared the next three bars on her first attempt — 12-6.25, 13-0.25 and 13-4.25 — before missing on all three attempts at 13-8.25. The event took nearly three hours in temperatures at or above 85 degrees.
“It was a little shaky because the wait was really long because there were 21 vaulters,” Felix said. “I definitely stayed confident and relaxed and took a deep breath every time I jumped. I think the biggest thing that helped today was being really cool. I had a towel soaked with really cold water, I had a spray fan and stayed hydrated and I stayed in the shade all day yesterday. I started today at my PR height before college and I was scared to start there but I trusted Coach (Matt) McGee. I’m definitely more confident in the 13-feet range now.”
“I was excited for the way that we competed and performed at this meet,” said Cougar head coach Rick Sloan. “For the most part we showed up ready and competed hard. The level of competition in the Pac-12 Conference is just so high that even though we’re pleased with how we performed to a large extent, it is still not quite to that standard where it’s scoring points for the team. There are people like Caroline Austin and both women pole vaulters, especially Kristine Felix, Jesse Jorgensen and Todd Wakefield, who not only performed well but they competed at the highest level and were very successful. That is something to be proud of and an accomplishment for us but when you look at where we finished in relation to the other teams in the conference, we have to do better than that.”
The Oregon women’s team captured the Pac-12 title with 139 points as the Cougar women finished eighth with 42 points.
The NCAA West Region Preliminary Round Track & Field Championships will take place May 23-24 in Austin, Texas where the top 48 competitors in each event will compete for one of 12 spots at the NCAA Championships, June 5-8, in Eugene, Ore.