All season long, junior pole vaulter Nico Weiler was the Harvard track and field team’s standout performer, often times cruising to event titles while firmly establishing himself as the best vaulter in Crimson history.
As Harvard’s only NCAA Championships qualifier, Weiler literally stood alone for the first time all year this past weekend in Des Moines, Iowa. But the junior was seemingly unfazed by the big stage at the championships, as he crushed his own school record in the pole vault and finished in fourth place.
“I was thrilled for him,” Harvard coach Jason Saretsky said. “It was well deserved for him to have that kind of success.... But honestly, the best part is that there’s still more to come. I would not be surprised to see him vault even higher this summer. Certainly, next year, I expect some big, big things from Nico because he’s a heck of a talent.”
Weiler did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Weiler’s final mark in the event, which he cleared on his third attempt, was 5.50 meters (18’ 0.5”). He became the first New England collegiate vaulter to break the 18-foot barrier.
In spite of the accomplishment, Saretsky said that Weiler was aiming to achieve an even greater feat.
“To be honest, we were looking at and hoping for the Olympic A standard for him, which was 5.72 [meters],” Saretsky said. “I think that was within his grasp.”
The unusually lengthy men’s pole vault event at the championships may have played a role in stunting the clearances that were achieved. Whereas the event typically lasts just over two hours, the quality of this particular field stretched the period of time during which athletes were in the Iowan heat. Vaulters were rarely missing, so the competition had to go on.
“I think [Weiler] was out there for over four hours,” Saretsky said. “That’s how long the competition took.... It’s a long time to be out there.”
For the vast majority of the outdoor season, Weiler was chasing his own school record of 5.36 meters. He was able to eclipse that mark for the first time at the IC4A Championships with a 5.38-meter clearance.
Fast forward roughly three weeks, and Weiler easily outdid that mark en route to his second All-American nod in three seasons of competition. He capped off his rookie campaign with a similarly impressive performance, finishing in sixth place in the event.
“In general, he’s just a tremendous competitor,” Saretsky said. “Part of what makes him so incredibly successful is that he’s able to just be in the moment and allow himself to enjoy the competition.”
And though collegiate competition has officially come to a halt with the conclusion of the NCAA Championships, Weiler will continue to train and compete, as he was invited to partake in the German Olympic Trials, which will take place this weekend.
“I think that the student-athletes on our team are going to look at what Nico has done and think, ‘you know what, that can be me some time, too,'" Saretsky said. "It’s very exciting for our program.”
—Staff writer Dominic Martinez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CORRECTION: The original article stated that the school record for the men's pole vault was 5.32 meters before Weiler's 5.38-meter clearance at the IC4A Championships. In fact, it was 5.36 meters.