Armand “Mondo” Duplantis of Lafayette (La.) has been named the 2017 American Family Insurance ALL-USA Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
The ALL-USA teams are coordinated by Fred Baer, founder, Track and Field Writers of America with boys selections by Jack Shepard, high school editor of Track and Field News.
Boys Track & Field Coach of the Year: Juris Green, The Woodlands (Texas)
Name: Armand “Mondo” Duplantis
School: Lafayette (La.)
Event: Pole Vault
When Duplantis pole vaulted an overall world-leading 19 feet, 4 1/4 inches on April 1 at the Texas Relays the junior at Lafayette (La.) essentially wrapped up the 2017 American Family Insurance ALL-USA Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
Not only has the 17-year-old phenom added nearly a foot to the national high school record of 18-4 3/4 set last year by Chris Nilsen of Park Hill (Kansas City), but Duplantis is in the medal hunt for next month’s IAAF World Athletics Championships in London.
It took nearly three months for another athlete, Sam Kendricks of the USA, to move ahead of Duplantis on the 2017 world list with a winning 19-8 1/4 clearance on June 24 at the USATF championships in Sacramento. World recordholder Renaud Lavillenie of France is “only” No. 4 in the world this year at 19-3, a notch behind now No. 3 Duplantis.
Duplantis has competed – and contended — in two IAAF Diamond League meets – in Eugene, Ore. (in May) and in Lausanne, Switzerland (on July 6). Although competing in only two of the four competitions this year, he ranks No. 7 in the Diamond League standings, led by Kendricks (who won both of those meets).
Duplantis had set the high school freshman class record of 17-4 1/2 in 2015, the year he won the IAAF World Youth (under age 18) title in Cali, Colombia; then set the sophomore record of 18-1 in 2016.
In addition to the high school records, he has set world junior (under age 20) records both indoors and outdoors this year. When he cleared 19-1 at the New Balance Indoor Nationals on March 11, Duplantis broke the Swedish indoor record and the family “record” of 19-0 1/4, set by his father Greg in 1993.
Greg still ranks among the top dozen high school vaulters with a 17-11 3/4 clearance in 1981, which was the high school outdoor record at the time (as well as a school record for Lafayette High).
As the calendar moves toward the 2020 Olympics, Duplantis said his success this season has made that possibility seem more realistic.
“Ever since I was so young, it was always the thing,” Duplantis told Gannett partner The Advertiser. “I wanted to become an Olympic pole vaulter, I want to win the Olympic gold medal and break the world record and then I wanted to do all the things the best pole vaulter that ever lived would do.
“It kind of didn’t start to become so real until this year. It was always more of a dream. This year, it’s becoming more realistic for me.”
Mondo Duplantis has dual citizenship. His mother Helena is a Swedish citizen (and former heptathlete and triple jumper for that country in the 1980s).
He will enter the world championships as Sweden’s highest ever vaulter, indoors and outdoors. He has become a star of world track in the middle of Louisiana football country.
“Sometimes when I’m here, maybe I’d want a little more attention,” he told The Advertiser. “Then when I’m in Sweden and there’s people all over me, then I’m like OK, I kind of wish I was back home.”
Duplantis also has maintained a 3.29 grade-point average despite his busy schedule.
Duplantis said the international events this summer will largely determine his plans for his future after high school, i.e., go to college or turn professional.
“I haven’t really decided what’s going to happen,” he said. “We’re going to kind of see how the summer plays out. We’ll see what happens at the world championships.
“After the world championships, I’ll be able to better see what direction I’m going to take. We’ll see.”