@MemTigersTF_XC Pujats Readies for NCAA Indoor Championship
March 14, 2014
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.-University of Memphis pole vaulter Pauls Pujats will compete, on Saturday, at the 2014 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championship. Competition for the men's pole vault is set for 4:30 p.m. (CT) at the Albuquerque Convention Center.
"Right now I am truly excited," Pujats said. "Right now I am in the best shape I've been in all season. I expect to jump high. I'm very excited to compete with the best athletes in the NCAA, it's amazing. I plan to clear the first height and go up from there."
Pujats' NCAA Championship berth is his first donning the Blue and Gray in either indoor or outdoor competition. For many first-time championship qualifiers, the experience might be overwhelming but head track and field coach Kevin Robinson feels that Pujats is capable of handling the pressure.
"The first time you go to an NCAA Championship it's an eye opening experience," Robinson said. "I remember the first time I went as an athlete and it was the first time that I have ever been surrounded by excellence. It's one thing to qualify but to get there and compete at that same level or better, it takes competitive composure. The first time you never really know how they're going to react. Pauls, for example, is a guy who I expect to go in and deal with it very well. I know he is fully capable of jumping with anybody in the country. Hopefully he will go in, stay composed and focus on the things that got him to that point to begin with. If he does that he stands a very good chance.
To qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championship an athlete must rank in the top-16 of their event nationally according to the TFFRS.org NCAA Division I Qualifying List. Pujats is tied for 11th with his program-record of 5.45m (17'10.5").
The junior set the mark in his gold medal performance at the inaugural American Athletic Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships on Feb. 28. The performance established the conference meet indoor pole vault record and broke the school's indoor record set by his older brother, Karlis Pujats of 5.36m (17'7").
Qualifying for the 2014 NCAA Indoor Championship adds to an already impressive resume in Pujats' second year at Memphis. During the 2013 indoor season, Pujats earned All-Conference USA second team honors and silver at the C-USA Indoor Championship with a vault of 5.27m (17'3.5").
Pujats built on that early success earning All-C-USA second team honors and silver at the 2013 C-USA Outdoor Championship clearing 5.18m (17'). That mark qualified the Latvian for his first NCAA East Outdoor Track and Field Preliminary.
Results from the 2014 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championship will be posted on GoTigersGo.com as they are made available.