USD's Nilsen Wins NCAA Pole Vault Title

EUGENE, Ore.–South Dakota sophomore Chris Nilsen broke the NCAA Championships pole vault meet record after clearing 19 feet, 1 ½ inches, for the second NCAA title of his career.

Nilsen’s title brings South Dakota’s total NCAA Championships to three since the move to NCAA Division I in 2011. The Coyotes also boast 17 All-America accolades in the pole vault during that span.

A native of Kansas City, Missouri, Nilsen vaulted a centimeter past a 22-year-old NCAA Championships meet record Wednesday. Lawrence Johnson of Tennessee held the previous NCAA meet record from 1996.

The sophomore had one miss early in the competition, but a series of four first-attempt makes vaulted him to the top. Nilsen was the only athlete to clear 18-4 ½. Akron’s Matthew Ludwig strategically passed a pair of heights to remain in the competition with him until 18-8 ¼. Nilsen made both 18-8 ¼ and his final height of 19-1 ½ on first attempts.

Nilsen also took three close attempts at a lifetime best of 19-4 ¼ on Wednesday, but was not able to clear the height.

In his young career, Nilsen boasts a pair of NCAA titles along with a silver and a bronze from the NCAA Championships. Nilsen ranks first in the United States and fourth in the world this season with his personal best of 19-2 ¾. He also ranks fourth in NCAA history with the height.

Redshirt-junior Jake David also competed at the NCAA Championships. David wrapped up this season with a new personal best of 17-6 ½ from the Howard Wood Dakota Relays.

South Dakota continues action at the 2018 NCAA Championships on Thursday with junior Lara Boman in the hammer throw and sophomore Helen Falda in the pole vault.