AUSTIN — Jack Whitt did what has become the custom and put his name atop the leaderboard in the pole vault competition, earning a trip to the NCAA Championship Finals on Saturday at the NCAA West Region, hosted by the University of Texas.
With the addition of Whitt, Oral Roberts University has claimed three spots in the finals, including Morrie Turner (long jump) and Jeffery Gibson (400m hurdles) who qualified in the first two days of the regional meet.
With swirling winds and spitting rain when the competition started, Whitt passed on the first two heights and never missed in his four attempts. Once he cleared 17-8.5 (5.40m), Whitt and 10 others knew they had assured a spot in the next round and the competition ended. Whitt was one of just three vaulters to have gone the entire competition without a single miss.
Dustin Gehrke gave a valiant effort and cleared 17-6.5 (5.35m), which was good enough to qualify. With just one spot open for the finals, it came down to the number of misses, of which Gerhke had four. Because of those four, he failed to advance in a heartbreaking tiebreaker.
Whitt, Turner and Gibson will make the trek to TrackTown for the final rounds of the NCAA Championships, held June 5-8. This year will mark the 11th time that Hayward Field has hosted the NCAA Championships.