AUSTIN, Texas – In his first competition back in his home state, University of Akron freshman pole vaulter Shawn Barber smashed the school’s outdoor record and nearly set the World Junior standard Friday night as the Zips continued to turn heads at the prestigious Texas Relays.
Barber, who placed fifth at the NCAA Indoor Championships last month, finished runner-up in a star-studded field with a top jump of 18-08.75 to easily surpass the Zips’ previous outdoor record of 18-01.00, which was set by five-time All-American John Russell in 2005.
Competing just three hours from his hometown of Kingwood, Texas, Barber then had three attempts at 19-00.75, which would have broken the Junior World Record of 19-00.25, but didn’t clear. The Soviet Union’s Maksim Tarasov, who achieved his mark in 1989, and Germany’s Raphael Holzdeppe, who matched the mark in 2008, currently share the all-time standard.
Ole Miss sophomore Sam Kendricks, who turns 21 this September, jumped 19-00.75 to win the event. To break the World Junior Record, the competitor must achieve the record-setting height prior to turning 20 years of age. Barber, who is currently 18 years old, won’t turn 20 until May of 2014.
Ten of the 16 entries in Friday night’s men’s pole vault competition competed in the NCAA Indoor Championships. Moreover, Barber and Kendricks joined defending outdoor champ Jack Whitt (Oral Roberts) and Jake Blankenship (Tennessee) as four of the top five finishers from last month’s national meet competing at the Texas Relays. Blankenship finished third with a jump of 18-04.75 and Whitt came in fifth at the same height.
Barber was one of 13 Zips competing at the nation’s biggest outdoor meet of the season and one of 35 Akron athletes competing overall in three different locations Friday.