June 10, 2005
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Washington State pole vaulter Tyson Byers cleared 17-feet, 8 1/2 inches (5.40m) for fifth place during the third day of the NCAA Div. I Track & Field Championships at Hornet Stadium, part of the Alex G. Spanos Sports Complex at Sacramento State University.
Byers, a redshirt sophomore from Spokane Valley, Wash., came into the competition with a PR of 17-6 1/2 (5.35m) and his efforts at the national championships are the third-best in school history. Byers did not compete at the Pac-10 Championships last month and had very little practice since April 30 when he injured his hamstring warming up before the dual meet at Washington.
Four vaulters cleared 17-8 1/2 but Byers cleared on his second attempt while the other three cleared on their first attempts. His series included a first attempt clearance at the opening height of 16-10 3/4 (5.15m) and he needed all three attempts at the next height, 17-4 1/2 (5.30m). Byers earned four team points for the Cougar men and earned All-America status for himself. BYU's Robison Pratt won the men's pole vault after clearing a height of 18-0 1/2.
"I felt I wasn't in shape the way I have been so I worked pretty hard during the competition," Byers said. "After the misses at 17-4 1/2, as I was making the third attempt, my legs were not a strong. But I just had to go for it. The winds were swirling and it was hard to catch a tailwind but it was really hot weather so I enjoyed that.
"I think this was a good step for next year," Byers said. "On the last attempt at 18-feet, I just nicked the bar on the way down. Next year should be a lot better as far as heights go. If I stay healthy, that should be good."
"Tyson worked all the way through the competition and he managed it quite well," Cougar jumps coach Kris Grimes said. "With the little amount of practice (due to a hamstring pull) he's only had one long-run day of practice and that was at the NCAA West Regional. Once on the bigger poles, he hadn't practiced on them and he had to do a lot of mental practice - watching video and talking through other people's jumps. Today he had to remember what it felt like to use the bigger poles."
After the first day's four events of the women's heptathlon, WSU's Diana Pickler is in third place with a lifetime-best 3,485 points and Julie Pickler is in sixth place with a lifetime-best 3,442 points, only two points behind fifth place. Georgia junior Jessica Stockard leads with 3,554 points.
The Picklers, redshirt sophomores from Sachse, Texas, started the day with strong 100m hurdles races. Diana ran a PR of 13.68 seconds, fifth-fastest overall, while Julie ran a season-best 14.07, 14th out of the 27 women competitors.
"I just hope they stay on the same competitive plane that they were on today," Cougar Head Coach Rick Sloan said. "They were right at their best or exceeding best in everything they are doing. This is a great heptathlon. The first race of the hurdles was fast and the next was even faster. Everyone was getting lifetime-bests in the hurdles and then in the high jump too. The 200 meter times all good. Tomorrow will be a little tougher. The javelin will be an equalizer in some respects. There are a lot of good long jumpers in this competition. If we long jump well we'll be right where we want to be (top eight scoring positions). They did a great job of going out and competing well and they should be ready to go tomorrow."