Track & Field
By Ryan Kaczmarski
Winning titles in the pole vault is nothing new for Olmsted Falls native Katie Nageotte, but leaving Birmingham, Ala., with a Division II indoor national championship had temporarily left the Ashland University red-shirt junior at a loss for words.
“It’s pretty nice,” Nageotte said, shyly at first. “No, it’s awesome! Just knowing that everything that I’ve worked for has paid off, and there’s more to look forward to.”
This is the first national championship of Nageotte’s career, and her winning mark was 13 feet, 11.5 inches. The national championship comes on the heels of her Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) indoor championship, where she won with a vault of 14 feet, 2.5 inches, which is a new record for the Grand Valley State site, where the meet was held.
“The girls that (finished) second and third (at the national meet) and I all had the same mark (of 13′ 11.5”) – we’re all in the same conference – but based on misses, I won,” Nageotte explained. “It was competition that I’m familiar with, and I like competing against them. They’re great vaulters and they pushed me (to get better).
“We all get along, so it was fun.”
The pole vault event is just an extension of various activities that Nageotte had been participating in since childhood.
“When I was younger, I was a gymnast and very much a daredevil, and so in seventh grade, they took us over to the track and I saw the high school kids trying the pole vault,” she said. “I saw that, and I thought, ‘That’s what I want to do.’”
In her high school career, she won the Division I state title in the pole vault in 2009, finishing second in 2008 and sixth in 2007.
“In my senior year (of high school) I set the Division I state record and tied the national Division I all-time record,” she said. “The all-time record has been broken since, I think last year or a couple of years ago.”
Nageotte started her college career at the University of Dayton, but being at the Division I level took some of the joy out of competing for her.
“I actually struggled there,” she said. “I was very hesitant in the vault.
“My freshman year, I did make it to nationals in Division I, and I did OK, but I was in a very rough place (mentally) with pole vaulting. It was the fact that it was a much more intense level (of competition), a completely new atmosphere (from high school) and a new coach, who was trying to change everything (mechanically). They were necessary changes, but I think I just freaked out a little bit.”
Her last name might sound familiar to some West Life readers, as she is also the cousin of Magnificat golfer Ali Nageotte. The Ashland Eagles are now starting the spring outdoor track and field season.