First full year of Division I, first national champion.
With a torn ligament in her left shoulder, South Dakota pole vaulter Bethany Buell cleared 14 feet, 7¼ inches on her third and final attempt to become South Dakota’s first Division I national champion on Friday night at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Hayward Field.
The junior from St. Louis tied the D-I national championship record with a clutch jump to edge Kansas’ Natalia Bartonovskaya and Eastern Illinois’ Jade Riebold, who both finished at 14-5¼. USD teammate Emily Grove added First-Team All-America honors by finishing seventh after vaulting a season high 14-1¼. The two combined to earn 12 points for the USD women’s team.
“I’m really proud of Bethany’s effort and performance today,” women’s head coach Lucky Huber said. “Bethany, Emily and Coach (Derek) Miles all had a great season and this was a great way to cap it off.”
Buell hit seven of her first 10 vaults, missing once at 14-3¼ and twice at 14-7¼. A third miss would’ve given Bartonovskaya the title based on misses. After clearing 14-7¼ to win the title, Buell attempted to clear 14-9 but missed on all three attempts.
Buell became USD’s first track national champion since Emma Erickson won the 800-meters at the 2008 Division II NCAA National Championships. She also is the Summit League’s first women’s track champion and the second women’s champion in any sport.
Buell missed much of the season after tearing a ligament in her left shoulder while setting the nation’s top–mark this season of 14-7½ at the Texas Relays on March 29. She didn’t compete again until the Summit League Championships on May 9. She’ll have surgery to repair the ligament this summer.