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Helena’s Chase Smith garners 2nd-team all-American pole vault honors

Posted at 7:47 PM, Jun 05, 2019

AUSTIN, Texas — Former Helena High state champion and Montana state record holder Chase Smith earned all-American status in the pole vault at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Wednesday.

Smith, who cleared 16 feet, 4 inches to set the Montana all-class state meet record in 2015, cleared 17-6.50 (5.35 meters) during Wednesday’s NCAA national championships, tying for 15th in the event to secure second-team all-American honors. The top 16 placers are named all-Americans, with the top eight finishes first-team all-Americans.

Wednesday was Smith’s third second-team all-American effort after he collected the accolade at the 2017 and 2018 NCAA Indoor Championships.

Kent State’s Christian Champen and Texas A&M’s Jacob Wooten also cleared 17-6.50 to tie Smith for the 15th-place finish. South Dakota junior Chris Nilsen set a new meet record, 19-6.25, to win the national title. Nilsen successfully defended his pole vault title and won his third overall, including the 2016-17 indoor national championship he won for the Coyotes.

LSU freshman sensation Mondo Duplantis, who holds numerous world records and owns the college-best vault of 19-8.25, finished runner-up.

Smith started his day clearing his opening height of 17-00.75, then was successful at 17-06.50 on his second attempt at the height. After missing his first attempt at 18 feet, Smith’s next two trials were close calls, but ultimately were unsuccessful attempts.

Smith, who capped his junior season Wednesday, holds a personal-best vault of 18 feet, 1 inch from February 2018.

Three other Montanans — Bigfork’s Makena Morley, Corvallis’ Sadi Henderson and Missoula’s Hana Feilzer — will compete at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships this weekend. For more on their events, and to view the Montanans schedule, please click here.