WAVERLY, Iowa -- A record-setting career came to a close on Thursday just shy of moving Lewis & Clark's all-time-best pole vault mark up yet again.
Deion Mock cleared 16 feet, 0.75 inches (4.90 meters) to place 11th in the 20-competitor field at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Wartburg College's Walston-Hoover Stadium. Mock went up to 16 feet, 4.75 inches, but couldn't clear the bar. If he had, it would have been his third time this season rewriting his own Lewis & Clark school record.
"The wind was very inconsistent, which didn't allow me to get on the big pole I had hoped for," said Mock, who cleared 15 feet, 9 inches (4.80 meters) on his second attempt of the day. "I was able to stay focused and compete through delays to attempt a personal record and upset some of the higher-seeded vaulters." Five competitors who jumped higher marks than Mock entering the event finished behind him on Thursday.
Weather concerns later in the day moved up the start time for all events two hours, making the pole vault an 8 a.m. Pacific Time start. Additionally, wind caused problems with the vaulting area, causing delays once competition started.
Fellow senior Kodie Artner, the Northwest Conference champion, qualified in the 400-meter hurdles and ran in Thursday's preliminaries, finishing 17th after a time of 54.74. Entering the NCAAs, Artner had the nation's ninth-best mark of 53.00, his career best. The top finisher in each heat and the best five times otherwise qualified for the finals later in the three-day event.
"It was great to finally experience a national meet and, although it did not go as planned, it capped a career at Lewis & Clark I will never forget," said Artner. "Racing at a meet with so many talented people and being able to represent the Pioneers was a great honor."
Artner finishes his career as the second-fastest in the event all-time at Lewis & Clark behind Rick Fergesen's 1977 mark of 52.34. His time of 14.73 this season in the 110-meter hurdles is also the second-best in school history. Although he has a year of athletic eligibilty remaining, Artner will attend graduate school at the University of Colorado-Boulder, where he will compete for the Buffaloes track and field team. Last month, Artner was named the Joe Huston Male Student-Athlete of the Year at the ELCYS, Excellence in Lewis & Clark's Year of Sports.
While Artner nearly assured himself a spot at the NCAA Championships after winning the NWC title, Mock didn't qualify until the final event of the year, last week's Whitworth Last Chance meet. Not only did Mock move to 16th nationally with his leap of 16 feet, 1.75 inches (4.92 meters), but he also reset the school record he broke both during his junior season and at the conference meet last month.
"Qualifying at the Last Chance, I've never felt so much tension, confidence and excitement vaulting before," said Mock. "I cleared the qualifying height at practice two days before the meet, and knowing that I had already cleared the bar, I was able to attack and replicate the jumps."
Mock finished second at the NWC Championships with a mark of 15 feet, 6.25 inches (4.73 meters). He and the previous record holder, Brad Moore, are the only Pioneers to clear 15 feet in the pole vault. Mock was the ChamPIOns Peer Award winner at the ELCYS.