Lightfoot goes high for 2023-2024 World #1 and Missouri Altitude Record
Lee's Summit native and American Record holder KC Lightfoot, has a long list of impressive accomplishments in his short pole vaulting career and he added another record to his resume Saturday. With MSHSAA high school state titles, a national high school title while at Lee's Summit High, an NCAA championship title while at Baylor, an NACAC record, two world championship berths, and a 4th-place Olympic finish for Team USA, Lightfoot was easily the best athlete at last weekend's Northwest Missouri State University's Richard Alsup Open in Maryville.
Lightfoot put on a show for college athletes and fans at the five-year-old Carl and Cheryl Hughes Fieldhouse at Northwest Missouri, which includes a 300-meter track surrounding an indoor football practice field. On the meet's second day, flight two of the men's pole vault commenced. University of Nebraska-Kearney junior Alex Homan cleared 4.76m/15-7.25 to take 2nd and finish as the top collegian.
Lightfoot had the bar raised to 5.50m/18-0.5 to start his competition. He cleared it as well as 5.70m/18-8.25, and 5.83m/19-1.5 on first attempts. At his fourth bar, 5.91m/19-4.75, Lightfoot needed all three attempts to successfully clear the height. That mark improved upon his season-opening 5.72m, which came on January 12 in winning the National Pole Vault Summit in Reno, Nevada.
Lightfoot entered the meet having cleared the magical 6-meter mark, or 19-8.25'', a handful of times. Only seven U.S. men have ever cleared that height indoors or out, including fellow Missourians Chris Nilsen and Jeff Hartwig, along with Sam Kendricks, Brad Walker, Tim Mack, and Toby Stevenson. Lightfoot did it for the first time in February 2021 when he broke the collegiate record at Texas Tech.
He did it again last Summer. On June 3, 2023, Lightfoot didn't just clear 6 meters, he cleared 6.07 meters or 19-11''. That not only broke Sam Kendricks' American record from the 2019 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Drake University in Iowa, but it also made him the 4th highest vaulter of all time.
Lightfoot sits behind only three men on the all-time list. Ukraine's legendary Sergey Bubka (6.125m/20-2 indoors), who dominated the event in the 1980s and 1990s, sits 3rd. France's Renaud Lavillenie will seek his 3rd Olympic medal and 2nd gold in his home country in Paris this summer. The 37-year-old set the World record in 2014 with his 6.16m/20-2.5 indoor clearance, which holds up for 2nd on the all-time list.
The current world record holder Armand "Mondo" Duplantis, who holds dual citizenship because of his American father and Swedish mother and competes for Sweden, has dominated the sport for the last four years. Duplantis has won a World Jr/U-20 title, two World Championships, and the 2021 Olympic title. Duplantis has set the world record seven times in the past four years, including his current mark of 6.23m/20-5.25, which he cleared last September.
Duplantis was born one day before Lightfoot, in November 1999.
In Maryville, Lightfoot missed on his first two attempts at 6 meters but cleared on his final attempt. The clearance was good enough to tie his personal indoor best and sit atop the 2023-2024 World Indoor season performance list.
It also set a Missouri record, becoming the highest anyone has vaulted within the Missouri border. "Soil Record", is often the term used to describe the best mark achieved on a certain area of soil, like "American Soil" or "European Soil", though maybe Lightfoot's mark achieved nearly 20 feet in the air would be a Missouri Altitude Record.
While Lightfoot sits 4th on the All-Time World performance list, he sits 4th on the U.S. Indoor list and 3rd on the Missouri Indoor list. Fellow Kansas City area native Chris Nilsen (Park Hill High School) sits atop the US and Missouri list with his 2022 6.05m/19-10.25. St. Charles native and Lightfoot's agent Jeff Hartwig (Francis Howell High School) sits 2nd on the U.S. and Missouri list with a best clearance of 6.02m/19-9 from 2002. Sam Kendricks sits 3rd on the U.S. list at 6.01m/19-8.5.
The USA Indoor Championships are February 16-17 in Albuquerque where two spots per event are up for grabs for the World Indoor Championships in Glasgow, Scotland, March 1-3.