Pujats leads Tigers on Day Two in Kentucky
Jan. 29, 2011
LEXINGTON, Ken. – Junior Karlis Pujats’ school-record pole vault mark highlighted day two of the Rod McCravy Memorial Meet, hosted by the University of Kentucky. It was a weekend highlighted by big performances from the underclass.
“This weekend gave us tremendous excitement about our young kids,” said Memphis track and field head coach Kevin Robinson. “Knut (Syversen), Nick Harold and Richard Lowe did well for us, but the underclass gave us the biggest push. It means our recruiting getting better and the kids are coming in more focused.”
Pujats won the pole vault via his school indoor-record 5.36m (17’ 7”) height, shattering the record of 5.21m (17’ 1”) by six inches. Pujats, who also owns the school outdoor record of 5.20m (17’ 0.75”), now sits just less than six inches away from the NCAA Automatic qualifying mark of 5.50m (18’ 0.5”).
“Karlis certified himself as one of the best vaulters in the country today,” said Robinson. “He’s only four centimeters short of qualifying for the European Championships after this weekend’s performance and definitely was our man of the meet.”
Pujats' mark also gives him the top Conference USA pole vault thus far during indoor season, and ties him for third-highest mark in the country entering today’s meets.
The Riga, Latvia, native’s achievement was one of a number of strong days for the men and women’s squads at the McCravy. Junior Cam Baker, on loan from the U of M football team, was fourth in the long jump with a personal-best 7.04m (23’ 1.25”) leap, while senior Knut Syversen, following yesterday’s runner-up performance in the weight throw, turned in a solid sixth-place shot put toss with a season-best 16.69m (54’ 9.25”) mark.
“Knut was a little down in the weight throw this weekend, but I think that was mainly due to riding the bus and our current training cycle,” said Robinson.
The men’s squad had a couple of notable performances on the track as well, beginning with junior Robert Jackson’s seventh-place finish in the 60m hurdles, in 8.23 seconds. Senior Richard Lowe was the eighth collegiate runner across the line in the 400m dash, which he finished in 48.95, a Memphis season-best, while freshman Jaz Davis continued his improvement in the 200m dash, finishing with a season-best 22.23 mark.
The women’s side saw two top-eight finishes in the Tiger camp on Day two of the meet. In the day’s first event, the women’s high jump, Lady Tiger sophomore Kirsten Berding set a U of M women’s season-high with a 1.71m (5’ 7.25”) leap, breaking her tie with freshman Laura Toldy for tops in women’s high jump for the U of M this season.
In shot put action, redshirt freshman Britta Jaarats just missed making the top-eight, finishing ninth with a personal-best 14.77m (48’ 5.50”) throw.
“Britta qualified for the European Under-23 championships with her throw today,” said Robinson. “She’s in a pretty elite class and was our female performer of the meet.”
In the 800m run, freshman Ida Fillingsnes made a surprise visit to the top-eight, finishing seventh with a career-best 2:14.89 mark, and fewer than three seconds behind Tina Sherratt’s school-record 2:11.90 mark, established in 2007.
“Ida had a good run in her first 800,” said Robinson. “She’ll be even better after a couple more competitions.”
The Tigers will return to the road next weekend, taking the squad to its only scored meet prior to the C-USA Indoor Championships, at the SIU McDonald’s Invite.
“Next week’s meet will give our men a chance to win the entire meet,” said Robinson. “That’s our goal, there and at the conference meet. This week’s meet gave us the confidence that we can do that.”