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Granite Bay’s Roth vaults onto world stage

The three-time NCAA champ qualifies for his first IAAF World Indoor Championships as a pro
By: Bill Poindexter/Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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Scott Roth landed on the other side of the pole vault bar last weekend in Albuquerque and sprang up seeing the world much differently.

The Granite Bay High School graduate finished second at the USA Indoor Track & Field Championships and earned a roster spot on Team USA for the IAAF World Indoor Championships, scheduled from March 9-11.

Roth’s résumé already is lengthy and impressive. He was a three-time state champion at Granite Bay from 2004-06 and a three-time NCAA champion at the University of Washington, including indoor and outdoor titles in the 2010-11 school year.

Roth, 23, actually has competed in world youth and junior world meets, but this next step? This is different; yes, much different. He leaves Sunday for Istanbul, Turkey.

“The NCAAs are really cool to win because I’m on a team, and the whole team is just so happy for me and excited about it because I’m bringing attention to the team. They’re always very supportive,” Roth said Thursday from Seattle. “Now, it’s a little different. I’m on my own and not part of a team. To go to worlds is just another … I feel like I’m in the real world. I’m a top-dog jumper now. It’s a pretty cool feeling.”

And, by the way, he’s getting paid now. The USA Indoor was Roth’s first meet as a professional.

“They have awesome prize money, and now, I’m able to accept those without breaking any rules,” he said. “So that’s kind of cool.”

Roth tweaked a hamstring at a meet in Scotland two weeks before the USA Indoor and nearly ruled out competing, but he was diligent in his rehabilitation and landed in Albuquerque with, as he put it, a “confident nervousness.”

Entering the meet as the only competitor with an ‘A’ standard vault of 5.72 meters (18 feet, 9 inches) helped.

Curt Roth, who lives in Granite Bay, said the injury led his son to place a greater emphasis on his diet and a thorough warmup. He also said Scott’s “incredible humbleness” is a major reason why he continues to improve.

“It is often the end of an athlete when he feels he has arrived,” Curt Roth said in an e-mail. “Scotty can watch his jump and see so much he would like to fix, and he works hard to do so.”

While Scott Roth already is one of the fastest vaulters on the runway, he continues to work on his speed and strength, and he’s trying to perfect his pole drop and carry.

“That has a lot of impact on how the rest of the jump goes,” Roth said.

Roth said he had an “awesome” warmup in Albuquerque, and his hamstring held together. He cleared 17-4½, 17-11¾ and 18-4½. Brad Walker, another former NCAA champ from Washington and winner of the 2006 World Indoor and 2007 World Outdoor Championships, cleared 19-2¾ to win the USA Indoor.

Roth missed at 18-9¼ but won a tiebreaker over Mark Hollis of Nike. Roth had his ticket to worlds.

The 18-4½ qualified Roth for the Olympic Trials from June 22-July 1 in Eugene, Ore., but his vision currently is set on Istanbul. As of Thursday, it was still being worked out whether his dad or Pat Licari, his coach at Washington, would accompany him. Roth said he’s thankful to have both be so willing to train and travel with him.

Roth said this is almost the pinnacle of his career. The next-highest achievement to the Olympics is a medal at worlds.

“This is by far the biggest meet I’ll have ever gone to. This is a huge deal for me,” he said. “I have this golden opportunity in front of me. I’m going to do everything I can.”

Roth’s personal record is 18-9¼. He’s shooting for 5.8 meters (19 feet) in Turkey.

“If I can … PR at that meet, that would just be the greatest thing ever because 5.80, let’s say, that would most likely get me top three at worlds,” he said. “And that is just a super reasonable goal for me.”

For now.

Contact Bill Poindexter at billp@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at BillP_RsvPT.