Paige Sommers Continues To Pole Vault Into Rarified Air

MileSplit photographer Mary Ann Magnant caught Paige Sommers in full flight during the adidas Indoor Nationals 2021 meet held Feb. 26-28 at the Virginia Beach (VA) Sports Center.

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In consecutive weeks, on opposite coasts, Paige Sommers made impressive additions to her already rarified pole vault resume. 

And the season is just getting started for the Duke-bound senior from Westlake (SS) High, the California record-holder outdoors.

Just over a week ago, competing at the adidas Indoor Nationals in Virginia Beach, Sommers, cleared a personal record of 13-9.25. That is the fourth highest indoor mark by a California girl, trailing only the 14-2.50 of Tori Anthony (Castilleja/CC) in 2007, a 14-0 effort by Anthony also in 2007, and the 13-10.50 of Rachel Baxter (Anaheim Canyon/SS) in 2017. 

On Saturday, Sommers competing outdoors at the Vaulter Magazine Grand Prix Spring meet, cleared 14-3.25, the second highest of her career and the fourth time she has been over 14 feet in a meet and the sixth time overall. (It was also her third 14-plus clearance at the Vaulter Club facility.)

Funny thing, she didn't win either meet. 

At adidas, Ohio junior Kenna Stimmel won with a clearance of 13-11.25, which ranks among the top-15 performances all time. And Sommers' mark isn't too far behind.

A week later at the Vaulter Club pole vault facility in Menifee, Sommers clearance was second to that of Olympic hopeful Kortney Oates of Risen Performance, who had the same height, but fewer attempts. (Oates was known as Kortney Ross while winning the 2010 CIF-State title at Westview (SD) High.)

"I got on the biggest pole I've ever been on and was going for a PR, so I'm pretty happy about today," Sommers told MileSplitCA's Emily Westfall at the competition. "I definitely didn't expect that today because my legs don't feel as fresh as they have the past couple weeks."


Sommers said the 14-7/165 pole was her biggest, and that she was going with an eight-stride approach.

She cleared 13-11.25 before the bar went up to 14-3.25, which she cleared on her second attempt (Oates cleared on her first). The bar then went up to 14-7, one inch above the 14-6 she achieved Feb. 22, 2020 at the Thousand Oaks Invitational to set the California state standard, as well as national age group (16) and class (junior) records.

"I'm happy with my attempts at 14-7," Sommers said in a subsequent interview, "because I was blowing through my pole and I corrected parts of my technique over the bars."

In the course of a week, Sommers competed on the East Coast, jumping her indoor PR in Virginia, and on the West Coast, achieving her second-best clearance outdoor while also getting attempts at a PR under the SoCal sun. But even for an elite young athlete like Sommers, that kind of travel can take a toll.

"Traveling back home from Virginia and competing six days later was definitely a challenge because it interfered with my practice schedule," she said. "I had continued training when I got back and didn't let myself rest too much, which didn't help my legs feel fresh."

Which makes that 14-3.25 all the more impressive. Consider that her PR ranks No. 5 all-time, this mark ranks equal to No. 10 all-time!!

As we said at the top, it was the fourth meet in which Sommers had cleared at least 14-0. We asked Track & Field News High School Editor Jack Shepard where that ranked all-time:


Desiree Freier


Rachel Baxter


Chloe Cunliffe


Morgann LeLeux


Paige Sommers


Lexi Weeks (Jacobus)