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LSU pole vaulter Mondo Duplantis

Unlike his older brother, Mondo Duplantis’ college career at LSU was destined to be a short one.

Just 15 hours after Antoine Duplantis completed his four-year career with the LSU baseball team, Mondo Duplantis said Monday he will compete as a professional on the lucrative European track and field circuit this summer.

The world-class pole vaulter became the first one-and-done athlete in LSU track history when, in his mother’s home country of Sweden, he announced via Twitter he would give up his remaining eligibility to pursue a pro career.

Financial terms were not known, but a source told The Advocate that Duplantis was signing with Puma.

His first appearance as a professional will be Thursday at the Bislett Games, a Diamond League event, in Oslo, Norway.

Duplantis’ news was hardly a shock; the Lafayette native contemplated turning pro after completing his high school career in May 2018.

Three months later, Duplantis, who was 18 at the time, became the European pole vault champion with a career-best clearance of 19 feet, 10¼ inches in Berlin.

That mark was good for the Swedish and American records and tied him for second-best performer in outdoor world history behind only the great Sergey Bubka.

Still, the World Youth champion, World Junior champion and World U20 record-holder chose to enroll last August at LSU, which he signed with in November 2017.

In doing so, he carried on a proud family tradition at the school.

His father, Greg, was LSU’s record holder in the pole vault from 1986 to 2000, and his mother, the former Helena Hedlund, was a track and volleyball standout.

Another brother, Andreas, was an All-American vaulter for coach Dennis Shaver earlier this decade and Antoine, a speedy left-handed hitter who quickly became a star right fielder for Paul Mainieri, is the program’s all-time hits leader.

Mondo Duplantis’ only season in an LSU uniform was nothing short of spectacular.

He easily captured the Southeastern Conference indoor and outdoor pole vault titles and claimed the NCAA indoor crown as well before finishing second at the outdoor nationals Wednesday in Austin, Texas.

South Dakota’s Chris Nilsen cleared a meet-record 19-6¼ to defend his title, while Duplantis jumped 19-¼. It was the first time two vaulters had cleared 19 feet in one NCAA outdoor meet.

Even though Duplantis didn't sweep all four vault titles for a single-season slam, he bettered the existing collegiate indoor and outdoor records with marks of 19-5 and 19-8¼, respectively.

The previous outdoor record of 19-7½ by Tennessee’s Lawrence Johnson had been on the books for 23 years.

Shaver said he was extremely happy to have had Duplantis because of the teammate he became.

Shaver said Duplantis, instead of going off and training by himself in a corner of the track, was invested in a team that won its first SEC title in 29 years.

"Here's a guy that had an opportunity to go pro (last year), but he made a commitment to us and he honored that commitment," Shaver said.

In an interview with The Advocate before leaving for nationals, Duplantis said he had absolutely no regrets about competing for LSU — even though he was exposing himself to injury.

“My parents thought it was the best thing for me, for sure, to come to LSU for at least a year,” he said. “So I decided to try it out. There was just something about the team environment … that was big.”

Duplantis has a busy summer ahead of him that will culminate with the World Championships in late September in Doha, Qatar.

In addition to the Oslo meet, he will enter Diamond League events in Lausanne, Switzerland; Monaco; Paris; and Zurich.

Duplantis will return to the U.S. on June 30 for the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon, also part of the Diamond League circuit.

Shaver said it was worthwhile and is looking forward to have Duplantis come back and train with his team after the season.

"He's a great teammate, and I'll always remember that and respect that," he said. "At the end of the day, it was just awesome to have him for a year."


Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter, @MicklesAdvocate.