When an athlete breaks a school and athletic conference record as a sophomore, what else can be done to improve? Slippery Rock women’s indoor track athlete Maddy Marshall finds herself asking the same question after breaking the decade old pole vault record set by former Rock athlete Jen Hansen in 2008.
Marshall, who was named the SRU athlete of the week for the third time this season, achieved a height of 4.01 meters in her jump at the Edinboro Open last Friday. “It’s going to take a minute to settle in,” Marshall said with a smile, “It’s kind of, like, surreal, I guess.”
Marshall previously set her season best mark of 3.96 meters at the YSU Mid-Major Invite earlier this February.
Arguably, the biggest stars of the women’s indoor track team this season have been the pole vaulters led by Marshall and fellow vaulter Courtney McQuaide. The high-flying duo have reached the NCAA provisional marks in each meet this season with Marshall earning an automatic qualification to the meet in Pittsburg, Kansas because of her PSAC (Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference) record breaking jump last Friday.
A four-year letterwoman in high school, in both track and gymnastics, Marshall is no stranger to hard work.
“It’s really nice to see my hard work paying off because I put so much time and effort and mental, physical, and emotional work into this sport.” Marshall said, ‘It’s really nice to see that I’m actually getting everything out of it.”
With the PSAC Championship upcoming this weekend, Marshall, of course, hopes to improve on her record-breaking pole vault but doing so is not what is most important to her.
“I really want my teammates to do well, too. It would be nice if I won but at the same time, it would be better if it was a team win.” Marshall said, regarding her hopes for the Championship. This year’s team is complete all-around with capable athletes in each section of the team. However, Marshall and the pole vaulters are the heart and soul of the team; the leaders on the track and in the locker room. Marshall can be the driving force to a sixth Championship for coach John Papa and Slippery Rock University.
After a hopefully successful PSAC Championship, Marshall’s season is not over. Next weekend, regardless of the outcome this weekend, she will travel to the NCAA D-II Championship. Marshall, though only a sophomore, is no stranger to NCAA meets. Last year as a freshman, she placed 13th with a jump of 3.77 meters. No longer inexperienced on the national stage, she is primed for a legitimate run at becoming the national champion in pole vaulting.
For Marshall though, the awards and accolades and dizzying heights are not what truly drive her. Her drive, her biggest competition, is herself. The task of always beating herself, bettering her own heights and improving her technique, pushes her to greatness.
“I just want to keep getting better whether it’s technique, not even necessarily getting higher heights, just improving my vault and making it more efficient.” Marshall said.
With most of indoor track season in the rear-view mirror and the beginning of outdoor track on the horizon, Marshall already has set records and flown to new heights and it is only her sophomore year. With two more years of indoor and three years of outdoor track, the sky is the limit for Marshall but she always look back on this moment: the moment Maddy Marshall was on top of the world and best pole vaulter in the entire PSAC.