By Jesse Squire
December 27, 2018
We’ll be announcing our CITIUS MAG Male and Female Athletes of the Year on Dec. 31. Over the next few days, our bloggers will be making cases for their own respective picks before we vote as a team. Here is Jesse Squire on Mondo Duplantis.
Mondo Duplantis is a throwback.
There hasn’t been a high schooler who was legitimately competitive with the world’s best on a week-in and week-out basis since Dallas Long in the late 1950s. No college freshman has been this heralded since Jim Ryun in 1966.
While he will never compete internationally for the U.S., through a quirk of USATF rules he now holds the American record at 6.05 meters (19′ 10¼”). He set that while winning the European Championships gold medal, where he defeated Renaud Lavillenie, the world record holder and 2012 Olympic gold medalist. With that same performance, Duplantis not only set a meet record and world junior record, but a world U23 record as well.
He’s a throwback because he competed a lot and everywhere. By my count he pole vaulted in 22 meets and won 13 of them. He’s also a throwback because he competed in other events too: the 100 meters, 4 x 100-meter relay and the long jump. He did these things because his high school team needed him to do them. That’s right, his team matters.
And it will still matter. Unlike most other superstars, he’ll be competing for LSU in 2019. We’ll get to see him compete in U.S. meets, probably in more than one of LSU’s five home meets this year. He is the buzz that college track and field desperately needs.
I was second in the 1980 Olympic* long jump. (*Cub Scout Olympics, Pack 99, 9-10 age group.)