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Dragila Sets World Pole Vault Mark

March 4, 2000

ATLANTA (AP) _ For the third time this season, Stacy Dragila set the world indoor pole vault record. For the first time, she collected a bonus _ $50,000.

Dragila’s latest record-smashing performance of 15 feet, 1 3/4 inches came Friday night during the USA Track and Field Championships at the Georgia Dome.

``I know there’s more to come,″ the exhausted Dragila said after breaking her record by one-quarter inch on her first attempt, then missing three times at 15-5. ``It’s right there. I’m excited.″

Dragila’s first try at 15-5 wasn’t close, but her final two efforts were strong.

``I felt like I was rushing those last three jumps,″ she said. ``I didn’t feel patient when I got upside down.″

Surprisingly, she had trouble at some lower heights.

She didn’t come into the competition until the bar was at 13-6 1/4. She cleared that height on her second attempt, went over 13-10 on her first try, and missed once each at 14-2, 14-6 and 15-0 before clearing,

``My jumps at the lower heights were cruddy,″ Dragila said. ``It was a long competition (because of the field of 26). I waited more than an hour to come in. My adrenaline was running fast. It took a while for me to calm down and feel the jumps. My last three jumps probably were my best. I really felt those.″

Dragila was the first woman vaulter to leap 15 feet indoors Feb. 19 at Pocatello, Idaho. Later in that meet, she improved the record to 15-1 1/2, before missing three times at 16-0. Those big jumps earned no financial rewards.

``The money was a bonus tonight,″ Dragila said. ``I was looking for the heights.″

The 14th-place finisher, Samantha Shepard, a high school sophomore from Weston, Mass., bettered the scholastic record of 12-10, clearing 13-0 1/4, but it won’t be considered a record because it didn’t come during a high school meet.

In Friday’s other finals, Adrien Sawyer won her first national title, taking the women’s long jump at 21-5 1/2, and LaVar Anderson captured his first U.S. championship, soaring 55-5 1/2 in the men’s triple jump.

In other events, Jearl Miles-Clark, the 1993 world indoor champion at 400 meters, ran the fastest time in the world this year in winning her preliminary heat at 51.36, and 39-year-old Johnny Gray, winner of seven outdoor titles in the 800 but seeking his first indoor championship, qualified for Saturday’s final with a second-place finish in his heat at 1:50.56.

Also, Carlette Guidry, attempting a sweep of the women’s 60 and 200, won her 200 preliminary heat at 23.05, the fastest time among the qualifiers, and Hazel Clark, a three-time NCAA indoor champion at 800 meters while at Florida, led the qualifiers into Saturday’s final, winning her heat at 2:05.80.

Sawyer’s success was a victory for perseverance and determination.

She was born with a dislocated left hip, an injury that wasn’t noticed until she was about 9 months old when her parents saw that she always was turning her left foot in.

``I wasn’t supposed to even walk,″ Sawyer said. ``I’m a miracle child.″

When Sawyer was just over a year old, doctors recommended that she wear a brace on her left foot.

Her parents, now both preachers, told her not to use the brace.

Shortly thereafter, her parents were playing music at home when the ``miracle″ occurred.

``I got on a table and stood up,″ said Sawyer, a former Big 12 champion while at Texas A&M. ``I guess I was destined to do track and field.″

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