Changing poles, toughing out an injury and a touch of controversy all went into an NAIA championship pole-vaulting finish Saturday for Igor Morales, a junior from Indiana Tech.
Morales was searching for the right feel in instrument. “I was working hard on my technique,” he said. Meanwhile, he nursed a pulled groin he said he suffered during the competition.
Another competitor, Easton Padden, a sophomore from Carroll College, went down and had to withdraw late in the event with what his coach described as a back injury.
By clearing 16 feet 6.75 inches, Morales hit his personal best and put freshman Richard DePalma of Siena Heights University into second place. The two warmly embraced after the nearly three-hour competition.
The event was delayed for about 20 minutes toward the end as a coach thought officials had made a mistake in the height of the bar for Morales and DePalma to square off. NAIA field referee Keith Mitchell said the coach was using an outdated version of the rulebook in making his case.
The wind shifted from being out of the northeast to coming from the south during the competition. Early on, athletes said the headwind depressed their expectations. “It’ll be in my head that I’m slowing down going down the runway,” said Adam Holdsworth, a senior from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
“Getting the tailwind definitely made things easier,” said Morales.
Several hundred people were on hillsides and around the perimeter of Indiana Wesleyan University’s track for the third of three days of competition. A high temperature in the low 90s and sunny skies made most athletes scramble for cover between vaults. While there, they continued to stretch in an effort to stay limber.
“I did what I was supposed to do,” Morales said.
1. Igor Morales, Indiana Tech
2. Richard DePalma, Siena Heights
3. Blaine Bassler, Oklahoma Baptist
4. Andy Peffer, Oklahoma Baptist
5. (Tie) Jeremy Rogers, Spring Arbor; Easton Padden, Carroll