Considering his family’s athletic background, there was little doubt pole-vaulting phenom Armand “Mondo” Duplantis would attend LSU.
The world junior record holder made it official Wednesday, joining the Tigers' track and field program on the first day student-athletes could sign a national letter of intent with the college of their choice.
Duplantis, who'll celebrate his 18th birthday Friday, signed with coach Dennis Shaver’s men’s program and will be eligible to compete for LSU in 2019 after completing his prep career at Lafayette High School this spring.
If Duplantis winds up at LSU, he would be the fifth member of his family to compete athletically for the school.
His father, Greg, and mother, the former Helena Hedlund, were LSU track stars in the 1980s. Mondo’s brother, Andreas, followed in their footsteps from 2012-15, while another brother, Antoine, is preparing for his junior season as a two-year outfield starter for the baseball Tigers.
Greg Duplantis was an All-American pole vaulter from 1982-86 and still ranks second on the school’s all-time outdoor list with a clearance of 18 feet, 5¼ inches. Andreas Duplantis is 10th on the list at 17-7.
Helena Duplantis, a native of Sweden, was a heptathlete for the Lady Tigers.
“Mondo’s entire family has attended LSU,” Shaver said. “Not that he has to follow in their footsteps, but the whole family has competed here.
“In a lot of ways, it was a no-brainer for Mondo,” he said. “He probably said, ‘Hey, if I go to college and get a degree, LSU is where I want to do it.’ So, he’s had a primary interest LSU to begin with for quite some time.”
There’s been speculation that Mondo Duplantis, who holds dozens of age-group vaulting records, might bypass college and turn pro after shattering the world junior record with a leap of 19-4¼ at the Texas Relays and making the finals at the IAAF world championships competing for Sweden last season.
He became the youngest athlete to reach the men’s pole vault final at the world championships when he cleared 18-8¼ in the qualification round in London.
Duplantis went on to finish ninth in the finals in his first world championships.
“He’s a little bit of a freak,” Shaver said. “I think he holds practically every age-group record that exists in the pole vault, almost from the time he was able to walk to today.”