Tennessee freshman Joseph Berry won the pole vault Friday night at the USA???Junior Track & Field Championships in Columbus, Ohio.
???I???ve been really pleased with Joe???s ability to compete against the top kids in the nation,??? pole vault coach Russ???Johnson said. ???He???s been very competitive in the biggest meets and has had a knack of finding a way to win. He???s claimed two national championships in his age group, which is always a good sign for the future. He is carrying on the Tennessee pole vault tradition of winning championships.???
Berry, the SEC???Freshman Field Athlete of the Year, cleared the bar at 17-4 3/4 to win the event and automatically advance to the World Junior Championships in July. The SEC and Mideast Region champion won the pole vault for the seventh time in 10 competitions during his first collegiate outdoor season. NCAA???outdoor champion Maston Wallace of Texas, who finished second, joins Berry in representing Team USA at the World Junior Championships. Berry earned his second national championship in as many years as the Horsham, Pa., native also won the pole vault at the 2007 AAU National Championships in Knoxville.
???I strive to compete in any conditions possible,??? Berry said. ???The field was pretty stacked, so it was a nice competition. I???was glad to be able to bounce back and compete again. I???ve never been to Europe, and I???m pretty ecstatic to represent the USA. I???ll probably be jumping against these same guys for a while, so I will be able to see where I match up against other vaulters around the world. I???m going to head back to Knoxville and keep training and working hard because that???s what got me here.???
The IAAF World Junior Championships are scheduled for July 8-13 in Bydgoszcz, Poland, and feature athletes who are at least 14 years old at the time of competition but do not turn 20 during the calendar year. Berry opens his competition Thursday, July 10th with the qualification round at 3:30 a.m. Eastern time.