NORMAN — A year ago, former Norman North pole vaulter Jack Whitt capped his junior season at Oral Roberts with a national championship at the NCAA outdoor meet. From there, he looked like a good bet to earn his way onto the U.S. Olympic team bound for the London Games.
It didn’t happen.
Instead, Whitt was an alternate on the Olympic team.
This year, Whitt settled for his second silver medal, to go with the one he earned his sophomore year, at his last NCAA outdoor meet. Yet, if that was a disappointment, he rebounded by garnering a spot on the U.S. team he failed to earn a year ago.
It won’t put him in the Olympics, though that day could still come, but it has him on the U.S. team bound for Russia when the bi-annual World Championships begin in Moscow Aug. 10.
It happened dramatically at U.S. Track and Field Championships, which concluded Sunday in Des Moines, Iowa.
Whitt cleared the opening height of 17-61⁄2, but failed to clear each of the next two levels — 17-101⁄2 and 18-21⁄2 — until his third and final try.
Then, when the bar was raised to 18-41⁄2, Whitt only needed one try to clear it. Though he failed to clear 18-61⁄2 in each of his three tries, his third-place finish and a spot on his nation’s World Championships team was already secure.
Brad Walker earned gold in the event, clearing 18-61⁄2 on his first try. Walker then passed on attempting 18-81⁄2 before failing to clear 19-01⁄4 in three tries. Jeremy Scott won silver, clearing 18-61⁄2 on his second try, before failing to clear 18-81⁄2 on each of his three attempts.
Walker, with a vault of 19-93⁄4 in June of 2008, continues to be the American record holder in the event. Sergey Bubka, who first grabbed the pole vault world record in 1984, competing for the Soviet Union, continues to be the world record holder in the event, last setting it with a vault of 20-13⁄4 in 1994, representing his home nation of Ukraine.
The U.S. Contingent of Walker, Scott and Whitt begin their Moscow run Aug. 10 at Luzhniki Stadiume (formerly Lenin Stadium). The pole vault final is scheduled for Aug. 12.