NACOGDOCHES, Texas – Stephen F. Austin’s Demi Payne will put her talents up against the best women’s pole vaulters in the country on Sunday afternoon as she competes in the 2015 USA Track and Field Indoor Championships at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center in Boston, Massachusetts.
The women’s pole vault competition is scheduled to start on Sunday at 1:45 p.m. CT. Payne, the U.S. leader and NCAA record holder in the event, will attempt to take the title from defending champion Mary Saxer (New York Athletic Club) and two-time Olympian Jenn Suhr (adidas) among the 10 women scheduled to contend for the championship.
“It’s pretty surreal to be competing with these vaulters,” said Payne. “I’ve looked up to Jenn Suhr since I began vaulting, so to know that I get to compete with her gets me pretty fired up. The best of the best are going to be in Boston for this meet and I have a feeling it’s going to be an all out dog fight come Sunday afternoon.
“I think if I stick to the plan my coach Jeff Erickson and I made for the meet, taking home a gold medal for Stephen F. Austin isn’t out of the question.”
Payne enters into the fray with the best seeding mark of the field at 15-7 (4.75m), a height that she cleared on Jan. 24 at the University of New Mexico Collegiate Open to break her own NCAA record. This season alone, the New Braunfels native has claimed first place in five meets, broken the collegiate record three times and set new meet records at five different venues. She owns five of the top six jumps overall in NCAA history.
Joining Payne on the quest for a gold medal is SFA assistant track and field coach Michael Courtney. Courtney, who works with the sprinters, hurdlers and relay teams at SFA, will compete on Saturday afternoon at 4:02 p.m. CT in the first round of the 600-meter run. The finals of the event will be held on Sunday at 3:40 p.m. CT.
Courtney claimed the title in the 400-meter dash at the 2011 U.S. Championships to begin his professional running career after graduating from Sam Houston State in 2010. An All-American sprinter for the Bearkats, Courtney was a 10-time Southland Conference champion, including a three-time champion in the 400 meters. He was also a member of five SLC championship relay teams and holds multiple school records at SHSU, making numerous NCAA championship appearances.
Courtney will be in a field with 16 of the nation’s best when he takes to the track on Saturday.
The 2015 USATF Indoor Championships will be broadcast live on Saturday, Feb. 28 and Sunday, March 1 onUSATF.tvand NBCSN. All events from these broadcast windows will be made available for on-demand viewing onUSATF.tv.