Missouri track and field women vault to big win

Saturday, February 8, 2014 | 9:16 p.m. CST; updated 10:04 p.m. CST, Saturday, February 8, 2014

COLUMBIA — Approaching 13 feet in the pole vault "has been a dream" for Missouri's Maggie Givens.

That dream became a reality Friday evening at the Hearnes Center.

The junior vaulted over the 3.95-meter (12-foot-11.5-inch) bar and landed in triumph, winning the event at the Missouri Invitational.

"There was just an overall, complete euphoric feeling," Givens said from the middle of the infield. "My whole body felt like a noodle."

The clearance is a personal record for Givens, who beat the second-place Heather Green by a half foot.

"It was huge; no way to undermine it," Green, also a Missouri pole-vaulter, said.

The vault moves Givens to No. 3 on MU’s all-time top 10 list, but she still has a ways to go before becoming a contender even within the Southeastern Conference.

The SEC, consistently one of the nation's top track & field leagues, currently has 10 vaulters over 13 feet.

“It's probably going to take 13-4 to 13-8 to get top eight in the conference,” MU assistant coach Dan Lefever said.

Lefever believes that Givens can eventually exceed that mark if her improvement continues.

This performance might also help boost her confidence.

“I think it really opens the door for her to push the envelope and see what she can do,” Lefever said. “She’s a really sweet girl, but this is an aggressive event.”

Half the Tigers performed at home over the weekend while the other half was in New York City. So Givens had plenty of friends at the Hearnes Center to cheer her on Friday. A couple people from her hometown of Branson were missing, though.

“My parents actually did not come; I’m a little mad at them,” Givens said with a smile.

Missouri was split, with the best jumpers and distance runners at home for the Missouri Invitational and the team’s best throwers and sprinters in the Big Apple for the Armory Collegiate Invitational (voted as this weekend’s Division I National Meet of the Week by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association). 

More than+ 1,000 miles away, juniors Kearsten Peoples and Jill Rushin got the New York City group off to a great start Friday, finishing first and second respectively in the shot put.

Peoples threw better than any MU woman ever at a mark of 16.93 meters. She set the previous school record (16.87m) last year at the ISU Holiday Preview.

Rushin set a personal record with a throw of 16.80m, which beat the third place mark by 0.67m.

Sophomore Markesh Woodson also had a big day in New York, tying his school record mark of 6.60 seconds in the men's 60-meter dash. The sprint placed him second on the podium behind Clemson’s Tevin Hester. 

Supervising editor Mark Selig.

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