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2015 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships

Eugene, Oregon

University of Akron’s Shawn Barber – able to overcome a few unexpected, anxious moments – combined skill and composure to win his first NCAA outdoor pole vault championship. After surrendering the lead last year in a last-height loss to Sam Kendricks, the collegiate record holder was determined to capture the title that had evaded him the past two years.

Shaking off an unsettling pole shattering incident during the warm-ups, the seemingly-unflappable Barber – whose 19’4½ clearance is the collegiate leader and #2 on the world list – encountered unexpected drama when the collegiate indoor record holder missed his first two attempts at his entry height of 17’8½”. Keeping his cool – a Barber strong point – the Zip junior averted disaster and cleared the bar on his third attempt.

In 9th place as the bar went up, the two-time collegiate indoor vault champ had his work cut out for him. Barber’s first attempt clearance at 18’½” moved him to 6th place. Taking a calculated risk, the 21-year old redhead passed at 18’2½” knowing that the daunting new height would thin the field. He was right. When the bar when up to 18’4½” only Barber and Memphis senior Pauls Pujats remained.

Now in second place and in a good rhythm, Barber was poised to finish the job at 18’4½ His confidence fortified, Barber made quick work of this higher bar on his second attempt and clinched the NCAA outdoor title he coveted when Pujats’ three heroic attempts all failed. With the championship secured, the new champion – clearly drained from the unexpected emotional roller coaster ride – looked flat during three unsuccessful attempts at 5.75m [18’10¼].

“I want to keep pushing myself up to that world class level for Beijing,” explained Barber, whose dual citizenship allows him to compete internationally for Canada. “I’d like to be on the podium in Beijing. That’s a great goal for me. This is just a stepping stone.” 

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Dunaway AwardAt the 2019 annual meeting of the Track and Field Writers of America, Dave was presented with the James Dunaway Memorial Award “for track & field journalism excellence.”

Dave Hunter

Dave HunterDave Hunter is a track & field journalist, announcer, and broadcaster.  Dave reports on the premier track & field gatherings around the globe, frequently serves as an arena or stadium announcer for championship events, and has undertaken foreign and domestic broadcast assignments in the sport.


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