U.S. Hall of Fame honors for Auburn’s Olympic gold medalist

Add another golden achievement to StacyDragila’s Olympian list of accomplishments.

And while her just-announced selection to this year’s class of inductees into the National Track & Field Hall of Fame highlights her 2000 Sydney Olympic Games gold medal in the pole-vault and three world championship, in 1997, 1999 and 2001, it’s also about her role as a pioneer in women’s athletics.

Dragila, a Placer High grad and Auburn native, was the first women’s Olympic pole vault champion, elevating a sport onto the national and international consciousness with her victory inAustralia.

“Dragila amassed a collection of firsts in an inspiring and storied career during the rise of women’s pole vault,” USA Track & Field stated, in announcing its decision.

Dragila goes into the Hall of Fame in the “modern era” category with four-time Olympian and Olympic silver medalist Lance Deal.

During a 10-year span from 1996 to 2005, Dragila rode the crest of a wave of growing popularity for women’s pole vaulting as it sought to gain legitimacy after being officially made an Olympic sport. A high hurdler at Placer, she first took up the pole vault in college. While the Olympic gold victory was Dragila’s defining moment, local pride perhaps was never more in evidence than when Dragila cleared the bar at 15 feet 2¼ inches to break her own world record and win the 2000 Olympic team qualifying event in front of more than 20,000 people at Hornet Stadium in Sacramento.

The Olympic win cast Dragila into the national spotlight, with an appearance on ABC-TV’s “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” (she won $4,000 for the Auburn Boys & Girls Club), on the cover of Vogue magazine, and, famously, on a Wheaties box.

Auburn welcomed Dragila for a triumphant return to town with a parade for Stacy Dragila Day. The track at Placer High School and the gymnasium at E.V. Cain now bear her name.

And she’s joining the national pantheon in December – with instant entry into the long-rumored Placer High sports hall of fame a given.

At the pinnacle of her sport during the 1996-2005 period, Dragila was an eight-timeU.S. indoor champion and nine-time U.S. outdoor champion. She continues to coach and put on clinics for young pole vaulters, giving back to a sport that put her in the international spotlight.

The National Track & Field Hall of Fame is located at The Armory in Washington Heights,N.Y. but the induction will be closer to home.

Dragila and new inductees will be honored Dec. 4 at the Jesse Owens Awards and Hall of Fame Banquet, which is part of the USATF annual meeting in Anaheim.

 Comedians three

No stranger to Auburn, San Francisco-based standup comic Will Durst is returning to the city and he’s bringing along some friends – plus a movie.

Durst, who played the late-great Constable Jack’s in Newcastle a few years back and the State Theatre earlier this year, will be back at the expanded Downtown Auburn venue in December for what is being billed as a combination “3 Still Standing” film viewing and stand-up comedy event.

Durst will be joined onstage by comics Johnny Steele and Larry “Bubbles” Brown. The three are being billed as once-rising stars in San Francisco during the 1980s, working alongside Dana Carvey and Robin Williams.

“They dreamed of being rich and famous but life had other plans,” the blurb for the film “3 Still Standing” states.

The three are still doing their shtick in front of live audiences and the film takes a loving look at a trio of mirthful survivors. The filmmakers – Robert Campos and Donna LoCicero – dedicated their film to one who didn’t, Robin Williams, who died in the summer.

“3 Still Standing” and the Durst-Steele-Brown State Theatre appearances will be Dec. 13. Tickets are on sale now at $25 at The State’s Janis Wikoff said that documentary has not been generally released yet and was a smash hit at the Mill Valleyand Austin film festivals.



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