In her final home meet for IU track and field, senior Kelsie Ahbe delivered on her promise.
She put together a career-best performance, vaulting 4.35 meters in her final competition at Robert C. Haugh Track and Field Complex.
“Today was special because it was my last home meet,” Ahbe said. “I’ve never put together a good meet at home. Over the span of five years — never. So it was a challenge, and I was excited to have it happen today.”
Inching closer to the school record set by her mentor Vera Schmitz, Ahbe soared past the competitors at the Billy Hayes Invitational with the fifth-best vault in the NCAA.
En route to a first place finish, Ahbe added an additional three centimeters to her personal best clearance, now just one centimeter away from tying Schmitz’s record.
But rather than opting for the 4.37 meter bar late in the competition, Ahbe set her sights on higher heights.
“I just think that I have even more than that in the tank,” she said. “I might as well see a higher bar now, so that when it really matter at nationals, I’m ready to go.”
Junior Drew Volz also achieved a lifetime best in the men’s pole vault.
In the final event of the evening, the entire IU team gathered in the stands to cheer Volz on.
With his teammates’ support, Volz sky-rocketed to the height of 5.30 meters — a tie for eighth-best in school history.
Sophomore Sydney Clute rounded out the triad of top pole vault performances, clearing 4.15 meters for a personal-best mark.
“(The pole-vaulters) have been practicing really well,” IU Coach Ron Helmer said. “And when you practice well, you hope that you can come out here and do really good things. And they’re doing it.”
Earlier in the day, freshman Ari Nelson won the long jump with a personal best 6.19 meters, the fourth-best mark in the Big Ten this season.
Saturday’s Billy Hayes Invitational contributed to a big weekend for track and field, one that began Friday with the inaugural meet of American Track League series.
In the 1,500-meter run, junior Rorey Hunter made a name for himself, defeating multiple professional athletes — including Australian record-holder, Ryan Gregson.
Gregson, Indiana Elite’s Danny Stockberegr and Austin Track Company’s Duncan Phillips down the stretch to win the race in three minutes and 40.36 seconds.
“I was just trying to not get last,” Hunter said. “I just jumped on the back of the pack and rolled with it. I got a sniff in the last lap and just kicked as hard as I could. It paid off.”
Hunter’s time is the second-fastest in the NCAA this season.
Seeing Hunter perform at such a high level isn’t surprising, Helmer said. Having his hard work finally payoff, as a coach, is gratifying.
“There are a lot of great people who never develop the ability to be a great finisher and Rorey’s got it,” Helmer said. “That’s a pretty comforting tool to have in your tool box when it’s time to go racing.”
The Hoosiers will get a shot at another top-20 opponent with a strong defense.
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Aronoff will be at IU on Oct. 20 and 21.