Sure, she came to win. But set records?
That’s not what Sydney Clute had in mind at Sunday’s Big Ten Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Lincoln, Nebraska.
But as fate would have it, she broke records, anyway. Lots of them.
More importantly, the Indiana University senior did what she set out to do, which was win the pole vault title.
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“My goal was definitely to win. I didn’t expect (the records) at all,” said Clute, a 2012 Center Grove graduate. “I wanted to jump well.
“Obviously, the goal in every meet for us is to PR (personal record), but I never imagined that the day would end like it did.”
The day started with Clute struggling to find the right pole in constantly changing wind patterns. It ended with her at the top of the podium after breaking Big Ten, IU and facility records.
Clute won the event when she cleared 4.31 meters. The height also broke the facility record for host Nebraska.
When the bar was raised to 4.37 meters, she cleared that to break the Big Ten Championship record.
Raised again to 4.42 meters, Clute cleared that to break the IU record.
“A lot of the struggling at the beginning of the meet was just trying to find the right pole, because the wind kept switching back and forth on us, from a tailwind to a headwind,” she said. “Everything just kind of came together.
“I was able to get the right pole with the right wind, and it was definitely exciting there at the end.”
Near the conclusion of the meet, Clute took a shot at 4.5 meters in an attempt to qualify for the Olympic Trails. She narrowly missed but is confident of clearing that height at the May 26 to 28 NCAA Preliminary round at the University of North Florida, where her main goal is to qualify for next month’s NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon.
“This definitely boosted my confidence a lot,” said Clute, who won the Big Ten Indoor championship in February. “Clearing 4.42 gives me a decent shot of qualifying for the (Olympic) trials.
“This meet has definitely given me a lot of confidence going into these last two competitions.”
Ranked ninth in the nation, Clute is now the IU record-holder for the indoor and outdoor seasons. She is now bidding for what would be her second NCAA Outdoor Championships appearance.
Clute placed eighth at the 2014 NCAA Outdoor Championships. She redshirted for last year’s outdoor season but, as evidenced by her performance at the Big Ten Championships, is positioned for a quality postseason finish.
Nearly clearing 4.5 buoyed her all the more.
“I know I can clear that. I just need a couple more attempts at it,” said Clute, whose post-college goal is the 2020 Summer Olympics. “That was really, really good, especially heading into the first round of NCAA qualifying.
“You just kind of have to go into that meet with a different mindset, because you can’t really go to PR. The goal of the meet is to just be jumping well and to qualify.”
Name: Sydney Clute
College: Indiana University
Sport: Track and field
Event: Pole vault
High school: Center Grove (2012)
2016 highlights: Set conference, IU and facility records at the May 15 Big Ten Women’s Outdoor Championships at Nebraska; also won the conference indoor championship in February