March 13, 2009
Rice junior Jason Colwick cleared three consecutive heights on his first attempt to become Rice's first individual NCAA Champion since 2002 by capturing the NCAA men's pole vault title during the first day of the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships at the Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium at McFerrin Athletic Center on the campus of Texas A&M University.
Colwick, who entered the meet as the top-ranked vaulter with a season-best of 5.61m/18-4.75 but was also coming off having not cleared a height at the C-USA meet two weeks ago, did not enter the competition until the third height of 5.35 meters which he cleared on his first attempt. He passed on 5.45 and 5.50 meters, then took control of the event by clearing 5.55 and then closed out his competitors by easily clearing 5.60 on his first try.
"I felt a little off considering how I did in conference a few weeks ago," Colwick said. ". I was able to shake it off and I had a couple of good practices coming into the meet, which made me very confident. For most of the season I have been jumping alone for the last couple hours of the meet so it was nice to come in and have guys to jump against."
Colwick is the Owls first NCAA indoor pole vault champion, and their first individual NCAA indoor champion since Allison Beckford won the NCAA Indoor 400 meters in 2002. Rice's last male champion at the NCAA Indoor was Kareem Streete-Thompson in the long jump in 1995. Streete-Thompson, who is now a volunteer assistant coach at Florida State was one of the first to congratulate Colwick after his victory.
He is the third C-USA product to win a NCAA Men's Indoor title, and the first to win the pole vault. Julien Dunkley of East Carolina won the 60 meters in 2003 and Darius Pemberton of Houston captured the 55 meter hurdles in 1996.
Colwick is the fifth Rice product to win an NCAA pole vault title overall. The Owls have produced four NCAA pole vault champions at the outdoor meet. Dave Roberts won three consecutive titles from 1971-73 while Fred Hansen captured the NCAA title in 1962. He is also the Owls fifth individual champion at the NCAA Men's Indoor, including Streete-Thompson; Gabriel Luke in the 400 meters in both 1990 and 1991; and Gawain Guy in the 1,000 meters in 1985. Allison Beckford is the Owl to win an NCAA Indoor title, taking the 400 meters in 2002.
Colwick became the first vaulter in C-USA history to top 18 feet and did so three times during an indoor season that saw him surge past a crowded field to become the NCAA Champion.
"This is all happening very fast, but I am sure I will catch up," Colwick commented. "I have never been an All-American before so this is all very new to me. I am just glad my parents were able to see me win this."