Photo by Klotz Images
PORTLAND - It’s not often that a high school student is among the favorites in a U.S. women’s track and field event, but Vashti Cunningham is not your ordinary 18-year old senior. Cunningham entered the U.S. Indoor Championships as one of the clear favorites along with American Record Holder Chaunte Lowe to finish in the top two of the women’s high jump and make Team USA for the World Indoor meet next week.
Cunningham did not disappoint a near capacity crowd that had gathered for the final day of competition, breaking her own National High School and American Junior records twice on her way to her first U.S. National senior title with a clearance of 6-6.25. It is the No. 1 mark in the world this year and an indoor World Junior record, making Cunningham the favorite for the World title next week. Cunningham gave a good attempt at another record height of 6-7, but called it a day after one miss.
“It is a blessing,” said Cunningham as she accepted her first place award. “It’s great to be representing my family. I’m very honored to be representing the U.S.A. I hope I can do well next week and be up here again.”
The oldest daughter of NFL legend Randall Cunningham, Vashti is finishing high school at Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas this year. Her father revolutionized the quarterback position while winning 3 NFL MVP awards, but Vashti is threatening to take women’s high jumping to a completely different level. Cunningham broke out in a big way last summer, setting the national outdoor High School Record and American Junior Record by clearing 6’5.25, which also ranked No. 1 in the U.S. and No. 9 in the World.
Cunningham was on a roll during the women’s high jump finals on Saturday. She entered the competition with a first attempt clearance at 5-10.75 and followed that up with a clearance at 6-0.75. At 6-2.75, Cunningham wowed the crowd near the high jump pit with a massive clearance, showing how she doesn’t just jump, but soars over the bar. She used another easy clearance at 6-4 to take the competition lead as she was the only one to clear every height without a miss.
Cunningham continued to put the pressure on with another first attempt clearance at 6-5. She finally missed on her first attempt at 6-6.25, before getting the record on her second attempt. Cunningham then had one miss at another record height of 6-7, before ending her day.