March 2, 2013
Blacksburg, Va. -
University of Alabama senior Alexis Paine set a school record in the women's pole vault at Saturday afternoon at the Virginia Tech Qualifier in Blacksburg, Va., improving her chances for qualifying for next week's NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships.
Paine, from Mobile, Ala., broke the school record in the event for the third time this season by clearing 13 feet, 11 inches (4.24 meters) on her second attempt at that height. The clearance not only marked an improvement of 2 1/2 inches over her previous personal-best and school record of 13-8 1/2, but also hallmarked a gutsy performance by her.
"Alexis is vaulting with tremendous confidence and it is showing each week," said UA head coach Dan Waters. "This likely gets her in the meet. The way she is performing now, anything is possible. Really proud of her and the job our pole vault coach, Brad Smith, has done."
Paine came to the meet needing to clear that height to realistically qualify for the NCAA meet so she passed on the first five heights contested in the event. She then cleared the height on her second try. It ended up being her only clearance of the day as she later missed on three attempts at 14-1 3/4 (4.31 meters). By then Paine had done what she had set out to do on the day.
Paine finished third in the event behind Heather Hamilton, who was competing unattached, and cleared 14-1 3/4, and South Carolina's Petra Olsen, who joined Paine in clearing 13-11 but was ahead of her in the standings due to fewer missed attempts over the course of the competition. The standings were not the point on Saturday, though, as Paine's new qualifying mark was the goal heading in.
A 2012 all-American at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, Paine is hoping for a chance to add to her resume one more time during this indoor season. Now, Paine must await results of other meets to see where she stacks up with the rank order list is finalized early next week. Paine has improved her personal best in the pole vault this season by more than six inches, having first set the UA record on January 26 at the Indiana Relays with a clearance of 13-5 1/4. She surpassed that standard last weekend on the way to winning the SEC Indoor title with a 13-8 1/2 clearance.