09 April, 2019

Eugene/Stanford: Pre Classic Women's High Jump Strikes Gold with Young Talent

  • Mariya Lasitskene @ Eugene 2017 © Kirby Lee

Mariya Lasitskene, the world’s dominant women’s high jumper, will be facing an incredible collection of young Prefontaine Classic débutantes as she attempts to repeat her success from the ’17 edition, where she raised the meet record to 6-8 (2.03).

The field has the event’s only 3-time Diamond League winner set to jump against the three most recent worldwide teenage sensations.

Lasitskene, 26, knows how to win. She hasn’t lost a major championship since 2014, and that one (a silver) practically didn’t matter as it was the first year she earned the No. 1 world ranking by Track & Field News. Lasitskene now has four No. 1 world rankings.

As the 2-time defending world champion (plus twice more indoors), she remains the one to beat anywhere. Last year she won her third Diamond League title – most ever in this event – and added European gold outdoor (August) and indoor (last month).

Lasitskene can appreciate young talent. She was just 21 when she first rated No. 1 in 2014, and 18 when in 2011 she set a world indoor U20 (Junior) record. Between July of 2016 and July of 2018, Lasitskene forged an amazing 45-meet win streak.

Vashti Cunningham, 21, already has a world title, winning the 2016 World Indoor in Portland with the leap (6-6¼/1.99) that finally bettered Lasitskene’s indoor World U20 standard. She was just 18 then and has now been world-ranked three straight years by T&FN– the first American with such a streak since Chaunte Lowe (2008-10).

This year the Las Vegas native swept the Millrose Games and U.S. Indoor Championships for the second straight year and outdoors cleared 6-4¼ (1.94) to win the Stanford Invitational in late March with her first steps at Cobb Track & Angell Field.

Cunningham has other headliners in her family. Her brother, Randall II, has won a pair of NCAA high jump titles for the University of Southern California. The siblings made history in 2015 by each winning gold medals at the Pan-American Junior Championships in Edmonton, Canada. Randall II is named after dad Randall, an all-pro NFL quarterback who coaches Vashti.

Two young Ukrainian jumpers are set for their first appearance in the U.S., and both have already circled the globe.

Yulia Levchenko, 21, was silver medalist at the 2017 World Championships in London, when her PR of 6-7 (2.01) equaled the best-ever by a 19-year-old. Last month she added another silver at the European Indoors, again behind Lasitskene.

Yaroslava Mahuchikh has turned the jumping world upside down. The 17-year-old smashed the world age-best with a stunning 6-6¼ (1.99) in January. She was only 15 when she won the 2017 World U18 (Youth) title at 6-3½ (1.92) in Kenya, and her 2018 Youth Olympics gold in Argentina followed that of Levchenko in ’14 in China.

Morgan Lake will turn 22 on May 12. In 2014, she was a double gold medalist in the high jump and heptathlon at the World Junior Championships in Eugene. She earned silver in last year’s Commonwealth Games after just missing a medal in the World Indoors (4th).

Lithuania’s Airine Palsyte, 26, won the 2017 Euro Indoors and was bronze medalist last month. The 2-time Olympian was 4th in the 2016 World Indoors in Portland.

Erika Kinsey, 31, is a 2-time NCAA Division II champion while at Central Missouri. The Swede, a 2-time World Indoor finalist, is a former European Junior champion.


Women’s High JumpPersonal Best
Mariya LasitskeneANA6-92.06m
Yulia LevchenkoUkraine6-72.01m
Airine PalsyteLithuania6-72.01m
Vashti CunninghamUSA6-6¼1.99m
Yaroslava MahuchikhUkraine6-6¼1.99m
Morgan LakeGreat Britain6-5½1.97m
Erika KinseySweden6-5½1.97m

Tickets for the 45th annual edition of the Prefontaine Classic, to be held June 30 at Cobb Track & Angell Field in Stanford, Calif., are available now by clicking here or at gostanford.com/tickets. Tickets can also be ordered by calling 1-800-STANFORD.

Prefontaine Classic