Dyeing his hair was the way Scott reminded himself to have fun during competitions, though he sported a different kind of reminder Friday at the Kansas Relays.
“I had it say ‘Boston Strong’ with the colors from the Boston Marathon just for my own special tribute to the people who died and the people who were injured in that (bombing),” Scott said, displaying the words dyed on each side of his head. “My heart goes out to all of them and their friends and families.”
Scott, a professional pole vaulter and former NCAA outdoor champion, is one of the Relays’ more colorful characters. His appearance Friday was a short one, though, as he failed to clear a bar after entering the competition at 16 feet, 7 1/2 inches. Jack Whitt of Oral Roberts placed first with a height of 17-5 1/2, with KU’s Alex Bishop and Jake Albright finishing second and third.
With cool, blustery conditions complicating matters at Memorial Stadium, Scott admitted this wasn’t his day.
“The wind kind of screwed me up today,” Scott said. “I felt like every time I would get near the takeoff it would switch from a cross to a headwind. I don’t know if it was mental or not, but it messed with my takeoff. We deal with it all the time, but I just wasn’t ready for it today.”
Ironically, Scott said, this was just the second time in two years he failed to clear at least one bar in a competition. The other was last summer at the U.S. Olympic Trials, where Scott was one of five athletes vying for three spots on the team after achieving the Olympic A standard.
“The two no-heights I’ve had total in the last two years were that meet and this meet,” Scott said. “I was close, I thought, but just didn’t make it.”
Scott graduated from KU in 2011 but still lives and trains in Lawrence. He plans to find a day job after completing his master’s degree in May, though he remains dedicated to his pole vault career.
“I think with my vaulting, it’s going to be really hard to have a job that requires a master’s degree, with all the hours you have to put into those jobs,” Scott said. “I’ll probably just get a part-time job wherever I can.”
Scott earns income by participating in professional meets and will travel to competitions in Beijing and Tokyo in the coming weeks. He’s also the reigning U.S. indoor champion after clearing a height of 18-4 1/4 at the USA Track and Field Indoor Championships in March.
“That was pretty cool,” Scott said. “That’s the first time I’ve ever won one of those.”
Scott is still working toward the Olympics and said he could have three more chances to qualify if his body holds up. He currently is considered among the top U.S. pole vaulters, but a lot can change before the next round of qualifying, he said.
“I think I’m top five in most people’s minds, I hope, but I don’t know,” Scott said. “A lot goes into the next three years. There are going to be a lot of people coming out of college who are already jumping really high. There will be a lot of collegiates there. It will be a whole different world in three years.”