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Monday, April 19, 1993

Rain moves vaulters indoors

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The collegiate pole vaulters competed under sunny skies on Friday at Memorial Stadium.

The developmental vaulters experienced ideal conditions on Saturday morning.

But when it was time for the elite open competitors to vault Saturday afternoon, the skies opened and it was off to Anschutz Pavilion for an indoor Kansas Relays competition.

"I felt a letdown. Half the field left," said former KU vaulter Scott Huffman, who won the indoor crown with a vault of 18-0 1/2. He beat ex-Jayhawk Jeff Buckingham, who scaled the same height but had more misses. Ex-KU vaulter Pat Manson was fourth in 17-0 3/4.

"It's disappointing because it was the first time I'd been outdoors all year," said Huffman, who, like Buckingham and Manson, competed at the Olympic Trials last summer. "Really the only motivation we had was Jeff's Anschutz record of 18-2 3/4."

Huffman was soaked during a steady rainfall at Memorial Stadium. So he headed to his Lawrence home to change clothes before trekking to Anschutz.

"I went home for 20 minutes to change my shoes and socks, came back and they were warming up," Huffman said. "It's too bad we couldn't jump outside. But we'll be back next year."

In the meantime, Huffman and Manson will continue to travel overseas while competing in major international meets.

"I'm not as concerned about the Olympics right now," Huffman said. "We've got the World Championships in Germany this year. Next year we have the Goodwill Games. There's something big every year."

KU track coach Gary Schwartz said the Relays will go on as planned next year. Approximately 5,000 athletes attended Saturday's sometimes-stormy session.

"I've said all along I'm not going to pull the plug on this meet," Schwartz said. "We had some tremendous performances. I was just talking to the Drake coach. He said, aside from his own meet, this is his favorite outdoor meet of the year. I bet if you talk to any of these high school kids, they'd say it's one of their favorite meets."

KU winners were: MaryBeth Labosky in the high jump, Julia Saul in the 10,000, Dawn Steele in the 400 hurdles and John Bazzoni in the developmental pole vault.

"We've been showing promise all along," Schwartz said of the KU women's team. "Getting Natasha Shafer (hamstring injury) back and running as well as she did really is a plus."

Shafer helped KU to a second-place finish in the 440 relay.

"Julia is a quality athlete and great person. She'd been struggling with her confidence," Schwartz said. "That was a great race for her confidence-wise. MaryBeth has been jumping extremely well."

Labosky cleared 6-1 3/4 to edge K-State's Gwen Wentland, who cleared 6-0.

"With those two excellent athletes, it comes down to who has the better day," Schwartz said. "The competition between those two is always outstanding."

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