TERRE HAUTE —
If Kylie Hutson were a cross-country runner, she’d be approaching the final stretch of her biggest race in about three weeks.
But considering she’s a pole-vaulter — one of the best in the world among females — she’s not huffing and puffing. She’s staying calm and sticking to her gameplan.
With the U.S. Olympic Trials in her event coming June 22 (preliminaries) and June 24 (finals) at Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus in Eugene, Ore., Hutson is finalizing her strategy to finish in the top three and qualify for the 2012 Summer Olympics.
The Olympics will begin July 27 in London.
Hutson figures she’ll receive stiff competition from 2008 Olympic silver-medalist Jenn Suhr, Lacy Janson and Mary Saxer (”my best friend on the circuit,” she said), among others.
The Terre Haute native and former Indiana State University standout already has battled these women during the 2012 outdoor season, including April 25 at the Drake Relays “Mall Vault” in which Suhr won with a leap of 15 feet, 7 inches, Janson placed second at 14-9 and Hutson was third at 14-9.
“I was just starting to work on technical things,” Hutson told me a few days ago, “so I wasn’t jumping real high then.”
A four-time NCAA champion with ISU (twice indoors and twice outdoors), the 2011 USA outdoor champion and tied for the 13th-place finisher in the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials, Hutson is training at Paradise Valley Community College in Phoenix under the guidance of coach Greg Hull. ISU assistant coach Jeff Martin had recommended Hull to her and she’s glad he did.
“I could not have made it this far without Greg,” Hutson emphasized. “He’s the most knowledgeable coach [about pole-vaulting] I know.”
She’s already booked a flight to Eugene for June 20, but she’ll be competing in other meets before the trials.
“We’re just focusing on the big picture … the process leading up to the trials,” the 24-year-old Hutson explained. “This is the strongest and fastest I’ve ever been. I feel great.”
She’s spending this week working with Hull and concentrating on weight training, then heading to private meets May 17 and May 24 at the U.S. Olympic Committee Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif.
On June 2, a little more than three weeks away, Hutson will be up against some of the top vaulters in the world in the annual Prefontaine Classic, also in Eugene. In 2011, Hutson tied for fifth with a German vaulter at a height of 14 feet, 4 7/16 inches (4.38 meters), while Janson was fourth.
“That’s always a high-caliber meet,” Hutson noted. “All the top-notch vaulters will be there.”
She may enter another meet June 9. That would leave her 13 days to peak for the Olympic Trials, which her parents plan to attend.
Hutson mentioned that she will need to remember one thing when the most important meets of her life take place in the three months — relax.
“If I’m having fun,” she predicted, “I’m going to jump well.”
David Hughes can be reached after 4 p.m. by phone at 1-800-783-8742, Option 4, or at (812) 231-4224; by fax at (812) 231-4321; or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.