NNU pole vaulter takes national championship in NCAA Division II

Northwest Nazarene’s junior pole vaulter soared to new heights in Florida on Thursday, clearing a new school-record of 17 feet, 7 inches, and in the process winning just the third NCAA National Championship in Crusader Athletics’ history. Photo Courtesy: NNU Sports

Northwest Nazarene University has a new champion. Payton Lewis, a junior pole vaulter at NNU, took top honors at the NCAA Division II Track and Field Championships in Bradenton, Florida this week. Lewis cleared a new school record of 17 feet, 7 inches, beating out Cole Phillips of Central Missouri who managed the same height, but needed three tries to do it.

Lewis is no stranger to victory. He's a 6-time Great Northwest Athletic Conference champion in the pole vault.

Lewis becomes only the 2nd Crusader student-athlete to win an NCAA National Championship. In 2009, distance runner Ashley Puga won both the indoor and outdoor title in the 800 meters.