Pair of pole vaulters named first team All-Americans

Five Hoosiers came to Eugene, Ore., this past weekend to compete in the NCAA Track and Field Outdoor Championships. Four left as members of an All-American team.

Two Hoosiers left with the title of first team All-American, both of whom competed in the women’s pole vault.

Senior Kelsie Ahbe finished second while sophomore Sydney Clute finished eighth, earning IU two All-American pole vaulters for the second time in four years. 

Ahbe and Vera Neuenswander both earned first team All-American honors in 2009.

“I think the two pole vaulters, particularly Kelise Ahbe, did really well,” IU Coach Ron Helmer said. “Sydney just getting a place and a score is a big deal, and Kelsie had a PR and a good shot at winning.”

Ahbe’s clearance of 4.40 meters was not only a personal record, but also a school record. Her second-place finish was the highest Hoosier finish in the pole vault since Neuenswander finished second in 2009.

“We’re kind of getting used to that,” Helmer said. “It’s not the first time that Coach Wiseman has had people preform like that, and I expect it won’t be the last. He’s consistently developed outstanding pole vaulters, and these are kids who were 12 footers in high school who are now 14 footers.”

IU’s two other All-American performances came through senior Kyla Buckley’s 11th-place finish in the women’s shot put and junior Rorey Hunter’s ninth place finish in the men’s 1500-meter.

While Buckley’s and Hunter’s similar results earned second team All-American honors, the reactions to their finishes are very different.

In Buckley’s fourth NCAA Championship appearance, Helmer said he was expecting better than an 11th-place finish.

“She was quite a bit off her PR, and had she thrown her PR she’d have been right in the mix,” Helmer said.

In Hunter’s second career appearance in the NCAA Championships, he ran the second fastest time of his life. 

Helmer said there were still areas in which Hunter could have done better, but those areas will correct themselves with experience.

“I could say I wish he’d have been out a little faster, I could say I wish he positioned himself a little better,” Helmer said. “He’ll figure all those things out as he becomes more experienced, that’s the way he’s been running all year long, and up until this point it’s served him very well.”

Had Hunter run nine hundredths of a second faster, he would be a first team All-American.

“I think if he got out a little bit better, I think he would have improved his chances to end up in a scoring position at the end,” Helmer said. “More than anything he needs to become more experienced in running against that level of competition. If he does that he has the talent to let him be a factor in those high level races.”

Another Hoosier who competed in Eugene, Ore., was freshman Matt Schwartzer. He finished 17th in the 5000-meter, earning him honorable mention All-American honors.

“That was maybe one of the toughest events in the meet,” Helmer said of the 5000-meter. “It was a high level event with some high level kids and we knew that going in. We hoped he could get close to a PR and in the top 16 and be a second team all American. He ended up 17th and was just a couple seconds off his PR.”

When Helmer was asked to reflect on his team’s season, he praised those athletes who performed above perceived expectations, but also dreamt of what his team could have been.

“I think we had places where we certainly had success,” Helmer said. “We’re not the team that I wish we were, and we’re not the team that I expect us to be. Certainly I don’t want to negate the positive things that have happened with some individuals who did some really good things. 

“Overall as a team, we have some room for improvement and we need to get better.”




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