PoleVault_Mills

Anandae Clark flies through the air during practice. She qualified for the Big Sky Indoor Championships with a height of 12-3 1/2. Photo by Anna Mills

Pole vault coach believes they can go to nationals

By Josh Friesen

Three pole vaulters on the women’s track and field team have already qualified for the Big Sky Indoor Championships: Anandae Clark, Robin Taylor and Keisa Monterola.

Pole vault coach Eric Allison believes he can send the rest of his pole vaulters before the season is over.

“They’re all capable of doing it. They all look like they can do it in practice,” Allison said. “Every year we’ve had almost 100 percent of our vaulters qualify for conference.”
Clark, a true freshman, qualified for the Big Sky Indoor Championships in her first indoor meet, the Fifth Annual Candy Cane Invite in Cheney on Dec. 8.

A graduate of Lakeside High School, Clark dominated the competition at the 1A level, consistently outperforming the rest of the field. A state champion in each of her four years, Clark’s heights during her senior year would have qualified her for the Big Sky Indoor Championship. At the Pasco Invitational in her final year of high school, Clark had a personal best vault of 13-0, a Washington State record and 18th best in the country. The vault would have been good for fourth all-time at Eastern.

According to Clark, when she came to Eastern she did not realize just how flawed her technique was.

“My success in high school was kind of shocking because I started here and realized I didn’t have any of the form down,” Clark said. “High school was kind of just lucky that I was as strong as I [was] and just kind of doing what felt was right.”

Allison can attest to the notion that Clark has some sharpening up to do, but he realizes the potential and talent she has.

“She had a tendency to run bent over at the waist and the tip of the pole was pretty low, which makes it hard to stand up straight [and] makes it hard to jump off the ground,” Allison said. “She’s starting to look a lot better on the runway. She’s starting to get on bigger poles now so I think that’s just going to come at any time she’ll be ready to jump really high.”

Taylor, a junior, is excited to see her freshman teammate develop. However, she has her priorities set in front of her as she prepares for the rest of the indoor season, concluding with the Big Sky Indoor Championships.

This is the third year Taylor has qualified. As a freshman, Taylor placed seventh with a season-best jump of 11-11 3/4. Last year, as a sophomore, Taylor improved with a vault of 12-5 1/2, good for sixth in the championships.

Taylor is looking to go even further this year. She is capable of hitting the 13-foot mark, a height she jumped past in the 2012 outdoor season. She said she just needs to focus on regaining some of the technique from her sophomore year.

“Right now the biggest thing that my coach is having me work on is staying calm in my run,” Taylor said. “It’s kind of a matter of getting back into the groove of things. … Once I get them down, things will start clicking and I’ll jump high.”

According to Taylor, one of the benefits of being at Eastern is her pole vaulting coach. Allison is in his 12th year as pole vaulting coach, and he knows the intricacies of the event. He is able to look at a pole vaulter’s technique and pick out things they need to work on.

“If something’s not going right for me, he’s usually able to look at me and see what I’m doing in my vault and he’s able to break it down,” Taylor said. “He’s really good at leading his athletes and breaking down the specs of what it takes to pole vault and seeing what we need to work on.”

Allison is confident his team will advance far this season. Not only does he expect more of his vaulters to qualify for the Big Sky Indoor Championships, but he is looking to send some vaulters to Fayetteville, Ark., to compete for nationals.

“I just think we’ve got a real good group of kids — a good group that works well together and that feed off each other,” Allison said. “If someone’s going high, someone else has to go high to keep up.”

Taylor agreed and said that the group she is a part of can accomplish astronomical feats.

“I can tell this is going to be a really big year for all of us,” Taylor said. “I feel like Eastern girls’ pole vault is going to be a force to be reckoned with.”