NORMAN – Oklahoma track and field pole vaulter Mackenzie Shell is set to compete this weekend at the USA Track and Field Junior Championships at Veteran’s Memorial Stadium in Clovis, Calif., in hopes of advancing to the International Association of Athletics Federation World U20 Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland. The meet runs June 24-26 with Shell competing on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. (CT).
To qualify for the USATF juniors, an entry must have met or surpassed the USATF qualifying standard in either the indoor or outdoor season between June 24, 2015 and June 12, 2016. The women’s pole vault standard is 13-3.50 (4.05m).
A top-two finish at the juniors could additionally mean a spot on Team USA at the world meet on July 19-24 as long as the winner and runner-up have also met the IAAF’s standard. The pole vault qualification is 12-11.50 (3.95m).
For Shell, the necessary marks came early in her collegiate career when she set an OU record at the J.D. Martin Invitational, the Sooners’ indoor home opener in January. The freshman posted a 14-0.50, then the third-best mark in the country, and set the tone for a strong year. She finished the indoor as a first team All-American after replacing her previous program record in her NCAA Championships debut, finishing seventh (14-1.25/4.30m).
The Port Huron, Mich., native’s success continued into outdoor as she remained one of the top pole vaulters in the country. Again on OU’s home turf, Shell proved herself the program leader in the outdoor pole vault. She posted an OU-best 14-5.50 (4.41m) at the John Jacobs Invitational in April that advanced her to her first NCAA regional.
“The thing about Mackenzie is that she’s done so much this year and yet there’s still so much in her,” said OU head coach, Jim VanHootegem. “It gives her more opportunity and she’s going to fight for a chance to represent the U.S., so it’s a qualifying meet as well as national championship. She’s young still finding herself as an athlete and so the more time she spends with it the better the process is going to go.”
A live webcast of the USATF Junior Championships is available for subscribers on USATF.tv and requires a Plus Membership. Live results can be found on the USATF website.