Freshman Hana Moll, Likely Paris-Bound, Won’t Go Pro Until College Vaulting Over

Freshman Hana Moll, Likely Paris-Bound, Won’t Go Pro Until College Vaulting Over
Freshman Hana Moll, Likely Paris-Bound, Won’t Go Pro Until College Vaulting Over

Hours before Hana Moll began warming up at the Mt. SAC Relays on Saturday, fellow pole vaulter Armand “Mondo” Duplantis was 6,600 miles away — raising his own world record to 6.24 meters — 20 feet 5 1/2 inches.i

Moll, a University of Washington freshman, says she was aware of that new global standard, set at a Diamond League meet in Xiamen, China.

But the modest 19-year-old didn’t let it distract her from setting a record of 4.60 meters (15-1).

Moll — whose record-setting twin sister Amanda also jumps for the Huskies — had three tries at a world under-20 record of 4.73 meters (15-6 1/4) but thrice displaced the bar.

The 5-10 superstar was disappointed. But she she’s in good Mt. SAC company.

When Duplantis, as a 17-year-old Louisiana prep, competed in the same meet (but at El Camino College and not under-renovated Hilmer Lodge Stadium), he came away frustrated as well.

On April 15, 2017, Duplantis cleared “only” 5.56 meters (18-3) and failed at 18-9 just weeks after setting a national high school record of 19-4 1/4 at a Texas meet.

His problem? He wasn’t used to the raised and rickety wooden runway at Murdock Stadium in Torrance.

Moll’s issue? Headwinds building in the early afternoon.

Tim Reilly, her longtime club coach at Northwest Pole Vault, said she did great nonetheless.

“The wind spun around and was a headwind for her last couple bars,” said Reilly, now a volunteer vault coach at the University of Washington, co-coaching with Toby Stevenson, silver medalist in the vault at the 2004 Athens Games.

His last try at 15-6 1/4 had the strongest headwind, Reilly said as half-lap sprinters ran into 5 mph gusts on the backstretch.

Her midmark for step pattern was 2 feet out, he said.

“So that made it very difficult to convert it to anything good, but she made very nice jumps at it despite the breeze against her,” said Reilly, who has known the Moll twins “since they were babies.”

“So that’s promising for other outdoors meets that the weather (at Mt. San Antonio College) is not so great,” he said. “It’s beautiful otherwise.”

Also bright: The Moll twins’ athletic futures.

“There is no limit I could speak of,” the white-haired coach said. “Yeah, I think the two of them are the most capable pole vaulters ever to walk on our soil.”

Amanda was the first prep girl to clear 15 feet. But it was Hana, at 18 the youngest team member, who made the 2023 world meet vault squad with Olympic champion Katie Moon and silver medalist Sandi Morris. (Hana took ninth.)

On Saturday, Amanda couldn’t clear her opening height of 4.00 meters (13-1 1/2). Her best is 4.61 meters (15-1 1/2).

“You go through plates and some [low] confidence times like Mandy’s in,” Reilly said, “but they’re the best two juniors in the world.”

He said the twins are in a “perfect situation for development,” competing for a “really good school and pole vault program.”

“Toby and I partnered up for this enterprise and now we’re finding… some really nice enrichment for each other and for the kids. So we’re co-coaching,” said Reilly, whose own vault best is 15 feet. “It’s a cool experiment.”

One thing Hana’s coaches are counting on is her staying at the Seattle school.

Asked about the chances of Hana going professional soon, Reilly said: “None. No no no.”

He said she’s a good student (a straight-A average at Capital High School in her presciently named hometown of Olympia) “and she doesn’t imagine herself finding more comprehensive support for her athletics than she gets right now at the University of Washington.

“If she went pro, she’d have to pay for all the things she’s getting for free now.”

Hana confirmed to Times of San Diego that she won’t go pro until after she’s done pursuing a business degree.

She hasn’t yet even begun making name, image and likeness money as many collegiate stars do, Reilly said.

“She has a NIL deal with [vaulting pole maker] Essx,” he said, “but so far she has not taken any money from anybody.”

Had Hana made 4.73 on Saturday, she would have secured an automatic qualifying mark for the Paris Olympics.

“But she went last year to the world championships with only a (4.61),” her coach said. So if she finishes high at the June Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon, with the world rankings points she’ll have piled up in a season that saw her win the NCAA indoor title, “yeah, she’d be fine.”

At Mt. SAC, Hana held her 14-7 Essx pole 4 or 5 inches from top. (“The flex of it was 16.2,” Reilly said.)

Hana has a couple bigger poles — but not for use in such adverse wind conditions.

“That slows you down a bit and bogs down your confidence too,” her coach said. “So she did well for a young person to jump into a headwind today. “We’re pleased with that.”

 
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