Oct. 17, 2012
The pole vault was introduced as a collegiate women's field event in 1998 and the first female vaulters mostly came from another competitive sport, gymnastics. It is no surprise that the Mooberry Track record-holder for the women's pole vault, Tamara Diles, came from a highly successful gymnastics career and is still making a living in that sport today.
Diles, from Bellevue, Wash., was 5-10 in height, tall for a gymnast, but she led the Newport High girls' gymnastics team to four consecutive state championship titles. She won state individual titles three times on the bars and floor exercises, and placed third in the all-around event all three years. Diles was pictured in Sports Illustrated Faces in the Crowd section as first gymnast in Washington to win two events three years in a row. She also started pole vaulting in high school and won the state 3A championship as a senior and set the state 3A record with a clearance of 12-feet.
As a freshman in 2002, Diles won the Elite Women's Section at the Pole Vault Summit in Reno, soaring over the bar at a school record indoor height of 14-3 1/4 (4.35m). Diles' PV Summit victory was over formidable competitors including Stacy Dragila, the first woman to win gold medal in pole vaulting at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and holder of numerous world records in the event. (It is notable to mention that Dragila is married to former Cougar All-American and Olympian thrower Ian Waltz.)
Diles set the Mooberry Track pole vault record of 13-11 1/4 at the Cougar Invitational meet, April 22, 2006. She was one of 20 competitors that day and passed on the first six bar heights, not jumping until the bar hit 12-5 1/2 (3.80m). Diles had a scare when she did not clear this height until her third attempt but was the only remaining pole vaulter at this point. She easily cleared the next bar at 13-3 1/2 (4.05m) and when the bar was set at 13-7 3/4 (4.16m) Diles again needed all three attempts to clear. She cleared the meet and stadium record height of 13-11 1/4 (4.25m) on her first try and then attempted 14-1 1/4 (4.30m) three times without success. Diles ended her WSU career with two All-America certificates and was runner-up in the Pac-10 twice.
In addition to her athletic accomplishments, Diles was an excellent student being named to the Pac-10 All-Academic and USTFCCCA All-Academic teams. An active member of the WSU Student-Athlete Advisory Council, she won the SAAC True Cougar Award as a senior. She was named to the 2006 Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholars track and field fourth team. At the end of her collegiate career Diles was awarded the PROWL-TeamCARE Award, the Beulah M. Blankenship Outstanding Student-Athlete Award, and the Pacific-10 Conference Postgraduate Scholarship. She graduated with a degree in sport management.
After college she continued to train as a pole vaulter for one year then returned to her mother's business, Gymnastics East USA, to coach competitive gymnastics. Now Tamara Lissandrello, she coaches 6/7 level competitive gymnastics and recently had her first child.