ELLENSBURG, Wash. – A Central Washington University pole vaulter blames Delta Airlines for losing a crucial piece of her equipment and preventing her from competing for a national title.
Athlete Kati Davis believes the airline’s mistake robbed her of winning what would’ve been her third All-American title on Friday.
“And so I was at my national meet with no coach and no poles and I had one borrowed pole that was too small,” she says.
The incident began Tuesday when she checked in at Sea-Tac Airport with her pole vaults – paying $200 to Delta Airlines for the oversize baggage fee.
But once she got to the site of the competition, at Colorado Springs, there were no poles.
Davis says she spent the next four days making several painful calls to Delta – hoping the poles would arrive for Friday’s competition.
“The most frustrating part, I think, for me, was I just kept getting the run-around,” she says. “I was talking, I was calling automated phone numbers that were hanging up on me or talking to people who didn’t know, or they would tell me one thing and something would be different.”
Finally, on Friday afternoon, she got word the poles would land in Denver – so her coaches drove two hours to get there – only to get stuck in traffic.
“The hard part was actually, you know, the pit in my stomach when we realized that the time – I wasn’t going to make it,” says J.T. Statler, who is Davis’ pole vault coach at Central Washington University.
Borrowing someone else’s pole, Davis competed anyway – but it was too short.
“I needed my coach, and I needed my poles, so it was frustrating for sure,” says Davis.
“When you have someone who works hard and does well, you just think that kid deserves it,” says her coach.
Davis didn’t get the title. But she did get her $200 back from Delta.
By Elizabeth Dinh