ISU Olympic Hopeful Mike Arnold

(Idaho State Media Relations)
(Idaho State Media Relations)
Reported by: Matt Gittins
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Updated: 6/20/2012 10:58 pm


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Story By Elizabeth Kidd- ISU Media Relations

POCATELLO, Idaho - Last winter, Mike Arnold won his third straight Big Sky Championship in the men's pole vault with a season-best height of 17'4.5" in Flagstaff, Ariz. After red-shirting the outdoor season, Arnold hit another milestone:his personal-best height of 18'1.75"that sends him to the United States Olympic Trials.

To qualify for the pole vault trials, athletes must either hit the 'A' standard of 18'7" (5.70m) or the 'B' standard of 18'0.5" (5.50m). The top 24 of all qualifiers go to the trials.

Joining Arnold will be former Bengals Paul Litchfield and Levi Keller with heights of 18'2.5" (5.55m) and 18'1" (5.52m) respectively.

Litchfield competed for Idaho State from 2000-04. During that time, Litchfield won four Big Sky titles in the men's pole vault and one Big Sky title in the decathlon. He was named All-American for his fourth-place finish in the men's pole vault at the NCAA National Championships in 2002. He holds the ISU indoor pole vault record of 17'11" from 2003 and the ISU outdoor pole vault record of 18'0.5" from 2003. In 2005, he competed in the pole vault at the USA Indoor and Outdoor National Championships and placed third and ninth respectively. At the 2008 US Olympic Trials, Litchfield finished 10th.

Litchfield was an assistant track and field coach at Idaho State from 2006-2011.

Keller competed at Idaho State from 2004-09 in the pole vault and multi-events. In the multi-events, Keller ranks second on the list of all-time best heptathlon performances with 5,394 points. In 2009, Keller placed third in the decathlon at the Big Sky Outdoor Championships with 6,955 points and placed third in the men's pole vault behind teammates
Sam Pierson and Arnold. Keller won the Big Sky Championship in the heptathlon with 5,219 points in 2007 and placed second in the pole vault with a height of 16'4" His height of 17'3" from 2009 is tied for fifth on the list of ISU All-Time Best Performances.

Keller's wife, former Bengal Lois Ricardi-Keller also has the chance to compete in the US Olympic Trials in the 3000m steeplechase with her 'B' standard time of 9:56.66. As she also needs to have a top-24 time, Ricardi-Keller's status as a competitor in the trials is pending.

Ricardi-Keller competed at Idaho State from 2003-08. On ISU's All-Time Best Performances List, she ranks fourth in the 1500m (4:28.68), third in the indoor 3000m (9:43.96), fifth in the 3000m steeplechase (10:35.00), eighth in the indoor 5000m (17:42.90) and eighth in the outdoor 5000m (17:28.14).

"I am so happy for these athletes." said Head Track and Field Coach Dave Nielson. "It is refreshing to witness their passion and dedication to the sport even after their collegiate career ended.  They all are fine representatives of Idaho State University and our Pocatello community."

Arnold, Litchfield and Keller compete in the pole vault qualifying round Monday, June 25 at 6:30 p.m. MST. If qualified, final are held on Thursday, June 28 at 5:05 p.m. If qualified, Ricardi Keller will compete at 4:50 p.m. on Monday and finals for the 3000m steeplechase are Friday, June 29 at 5:45 p.m. The NBC Sports Network will be broadcasting live from the trials from 7-9 p.m. MST on Monday and Thursday and from 4-6 p.m. MST on Friday.

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