Sam Houston State junior Clayton Fritsch won another medal on the international stage for the red, white and blue Saturday.
The Team USA member finished third in the pole vault on a cold, windy afternoon at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru at the National Sports Village. Fritsch topped 18 feet, 4 ¾ inches to take the bronze and became the first Bearkat track and field athlete to medal at the Pan American Games.
Teammate Chris Nilsen won the gold with a jump of 18 feet, 10 3/4 inches and Augusto Dutra Da Silva De Oliveira of Brazil took the silver with a vault of 18 feet, 8 ¾ inches.
Fritsch’s performance caps a spectacular summer. He won the pole vault competition for Team USA in June at the 2019 U-23 North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletics Association Championships in Querétaro, Mexico. His mark of 18 feet, 4 ½ inches also set the meet record.
Fritsch is turned in a seventh-place finish at the USATF Outdoor Championships at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa on July 27. He topped 17 feet, 11 inches.
The Sealy native easily qualified for the USATF Outdoor Championships with a jump of 18 feet, 10 ¼ inches in May when he placed third at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Austin. The height was also the sixth-best in the country.
Fritsch was named a first-team All-American by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association following the outdoor season. He also placed seventh at the NCAA indoor championships last fall, which also makes him the first Sam Houston State student-athlete to be both an indoor and outdoor first-team All-American honoree.