North grad Fossen earns All-America honors
Becoming just the third female NCAA Division I All-American outdoors for Eastern Washington University, senior pole vaulter Morgan Fossen placed 10th in the pole vault at the NCAA Championships at Eugene, on Thursday.
She earned second team All-America honors with a personal best of 13-9 1/4 — second-best in school history — at renowned Hayward Field. The top eight finishers earn first team All-America honors, the next eight are named to the second team and the remaining competitors receive honorable mention.
"I was so happy to be here and vault," said Fossen, a 2016 North Medford High graduate who was competing at Hayward Field for the fourth time. "There was no better way I could end my outdoor career. I felt the Hayward Magic and ran with it."
"Morgan was definitely at home today," said women's head coach Marcia Mecklenburg. "She had a personal-record vault, in front of her family and teammates, at the national championships, in an amazing track stadium, and a tenth place finish. It has to be the highlight of her career. I could tell she was having fun out there and I couldn't be more proud of her."
In windy conditions, Fossen cleared 13-3 1/2 on her first attempt, then 13-9 1/4 on her second try at that height. Meanwhile, five competitors failed to clear the opening height, and then eight more at the next height. Entering the competition, 17 of the 24 competitors had cleared 14 feet this season.
"It was difficult because the wind was swirling all around," said Eastern pole vault coach Eric Allison. "It changed directions a lot and made it hard to figure out how to approach jumps. But Morgan powered through it and did great. She cleared a pretty high opening height for her, then cleared a personal best. She came just one miss from being a first team All-American, and that's impressive."
Fossen missed all three attempts at 14-1 1/4, which would have broken the school record of 14-0 set by EWU's only indoor female All-American, Keisa Monterola, in 2012. The only other female All-Americans for Eastern outdoors were Carolee Gutierrez in 2007 in the javelin and Kari McKay in the 10,000 meters in 1992.
"She really had a great attempt on her second try and was about five inches above the bar," Allison said of the record attempts. "We just had the standards a little too deep to be able to clear it. But she enjoyed herself and represented Eastern in a fantastic manner."
It was a season of vast improvements by Fossen, who cleared 13-8 1/4 in the pole vault at the West Regional in College Station, Texas — good enough to advance her to the finals in Eugene.
She had competed three times previously at Hayward Field — twice for Eugene-based Lane Community College, and once during high school at the Oregon Relays. Fossen, who has a 3.85 grade point average and received her degree in communication sciences & disorders this spring,
She was supported at Hayward Field by a collection of family and friends, including her sister, Megan Fossen, who is on the Eastern women's basketball team.
"I have to give a shout out to her coach, Eric Allison," added Mecklenburg. "He did everything right to get her ready for that competition."
Entering the regional round, Fossen's mark of 13-8 1/2 was 35th-best in the nation. Fossen had an outdoor best at EWU of 11-10 3/4 entering the season. But she cleared 13-8 1/2 to rank second in school history earlier this year, then had an effort of 12-9 in finishing as the Big Sky Conference runner-up behind teammate Katrina Terry.
She was the Northwest Athletic Conference (NWAC) champion in the pole vault as a freshman and was the runner-up as a sophomore. She had a personal best of 12-6 as a sophomore, then transferred to Eastern where she had a best of 11-10 3/ at the 2019 Big Sky Conference Outdoor Championships. She advanced to the 2020 Big Sky Indoor Championships but no-heighted, and then the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out her 2020 outdoor and 2021 indoor seasons.
However, she had her career-best vault of 13-8 1/2 on April 2 at a meet at Whitworth to rank second in EWU history. The school record is 14-0 by former Eagle Keisa Monterola in 2012. Monterola qualified for the NCAA Championships in 2012, but was unable to compete for personal reasons. Earlier that season, Monterola earned All-America honors by placing fifth in the nation, and her vault of 14-4 that season is a Big Sky all-time best.
The last female competitors at the NCAA Championships for EWU came in 2014 when both Emma Murillo (javelin) and Catie Arrigoni (steeplechase) qualified.
Eastern continued its dominance in the women's pole vault at the Big Sky Championships this season with a 1-2-7-8 finish. EWU's group of women's pole vaulters has ranked as high as seventh in NCAA Division I this season (currently 10th), and had a 1-2-3 sweep outdoors at the league meet in 2019.
Eastern has now won six outdoor pole vault titles — all in the last nine meets since 2012 — with Terry's winning vault this year the most recent.