Vashti Cunningham to make pro debut at Prefontaine Classic
World indoor high jump champion Vashti Cunningham will make her professional debut at next month's 2016 Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore., organizers announced.
The Bishop Gorman High School senior decided to forego her NCAA eligibility after winning gold at the 2016 IAAF World Indoor Track and Field championships last month. She signed a professional contract with Nike, which also sponsors the meet. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
There were initially reports that Cunningham would open her outdoor campaign at the Mt. SAC Invitational in Walnut, Calif., later this month.
Cunningham will face off against Spain's Ruth Beitia, who took silver behind her at indoor worlds. Beita, 37, won the Diamond League title in 2015 and was fourth at the 2012 Olympics in London.
Other competitors in the field include Kamila Licwinko (Poland), Alessia Trost (Italy), Marie-Laurence Jungfleisch (Germany), Airine Palsyte (Lithuania), Levern Spencer (St. Lucia) and Isobel Pooley (Great Britain).
Olympic champion Anna Chicherova or world champion Mariya Kuchina are not entered in the meet as Russia is banned from competing internationally after a report by the World Anti-Doping Agency uncovered evidence of systemic doping and cover-ups of athlete positive tests by coaches, agents, officials.
She is the daughter of former NFL quarterback Randall Cunningham, who now serves as her coach. She is a favorite to make the U.S. Olympic team in the event.
- Christopher Chavez