Monterola Earns First Team All-America Honors at NCAA Championships

Olympic hopeful from Venezuela finishes fifth in the pole vault with jump of 14-1 1/4

By Dustin Toms, EWU Sports Information

In her first indoor track and field season at Eastern Washington University, junior Keisa Monterola made her school proud.

The Venezuelan national record holder earned first team All-America honors after placing fifth in the pole vault on Saturday (Mar. 10) at the NCAA Division I Track and Field Indoor Championships hosted by Boise State University in Nampa, Idaho.

“Keisa did a great job competing for EWU,” said Eastern pole vault coach Eric Allison. “She gave the school an All-American. She stepped up and competed well against the nation’s best competition. I’m very proud of her.”

Monterola’s jump of 14-1 1/4 helped her become the first female athlete in school history to be earn All-America honors indoors. Eastern has had two earn All-America honors outdoors – Kari McKay (fourth in the 10,000 in 1992) and Carolee Gutierrez (eighth in the javelin in 2007).

The collegiate national record holder, Tina Sutej of Arkansas, won the event with a jump of 14-7 1/4, and freshman Morgann Leleux from Georgia was runner-up with an effort of 14-5 1/4. Katerina Stefanidi from Stanford and Leslie Brost from North Dakota State both cleared 14-3 1/4 and were third and fourth, respectively.

Monterola and Rachel Laurent of LSU both vaulted 14-1 1/4, but Monterola edged her out for fifth because she cleared that height on her first attempt and Laurent missed on her first try. Of the top six finishers, all were seniors except for Leleux and Monterola.

Monterola won the Big Sky Conference title in the pole vault with an effort of 14-2 on Feb. 25 in Flagstaff, Ariz. For her performance – which broke the previous Big Sky Championship record of 14-1 1/4 – she was named the Athlete of the Meet.

She made her Eastern debut on Dec. 3, 2011, at the Candy Cane Invitational with a school-record effort of 13-11 1/4, breaking the previous record of 13-4 1/2 set by Sarah Hegna in 2007. Nearly two months later, Monterola broke the Big Sky Conference indoor record for the women’s pole vault on Jan. 28 with a jump of 14-4 at the UW Team Invitational in Seattle, Wash. The previous record was 14-1 1/4 set by Elouise Rudy of Montana State in 2008. The jump automatically qualified Monterola for the NCAA Championships.

A transfer from Clackamas Community College, Monterola’s goal is still to make this summer’s Olympic Games in London, and she is just a heartbeat away from the Olympic B-standard of 14-5 1/4. Her personal best is 14-4, but she’ll have the upcoming outdoor season to hit that mark.

“If things keep going the way they are going now, she’ll be competing in the Olympics,” said Allison.

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