Ashley Preston, a Delsea graduate, continued her remarkable freshman year at Villanova Saturday by winning the Big East Conference pole vault title with a personal-best 13-2 1/4 at Icahn Stadium in New York.
That’s the fourth-best performance in Villanova history either indoors or out.
Preston’s previous-best was 12-9 1/2, which she cleared just three weeks ago in a meet at Widener.
Preston had a high school PR of 12-7 1/2, which she hit at last year’s Penn Relays. She went on to win the state Group 3 title and place third at the Meet of Champions, both at 12-6. She ranks No. 3 in state history and No. 2 in South Jersey history, behind Shawnee’s Danielle O’Reilly, who set what was then the national indoor high school record of 13-5 at the 2004 Varsity Classic at the Armory in New York.
This past winter, Preston matched her PR of 12-7 1/2 when she won the Big East indoor title at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio, then beat it at Widener.
On Saturday, she entered the competition at 11-8 and cleared 11-8, 12-2 and 12-6 each on her second attempt.
With the bar going up beyond her PR, to 12-10, she trailed Marquette’s Rachel Seraphine, who had cleared 12-6 on her first attempt.
But Preston, needing a PR just to stay in contention for the conference title, soared over the bar at 12-10 on her first attempt, and Seraphine was unable to clear 12-10, giving Preston the title.
Preston then had the bar raised to 13-2 1/4, which she cleared that on her second attempt. She took three tries at 13-5 1/4, her 10th, 11th and 12th vaults of the day.
Here’s a look at the all-time Villanova top-5, including indoor and outdoor marks:
13-10 … Alexandra Wasik, 2015
13-5 3/4 … Ashlyn Llerandi, 2010
13-3 3/4 … Kathleen McPhillips, 2015
13-2 1/4 … Ashley Preston, 2019
12-11 1/2 … Amanda McNelis, 2018
Villanova went 1-4-5-6-8 in the vault, accounting for a whopping 23 team points. That helped Villanova win the team title 217-159 over DePaul, the Wildcats’ second straight Big East title, fourth in the last six seasons and 12th overall. The Villanova track and XC program has won six straight Big East titles under coach Gina Procaccio.