The Rocket

Pole vault duo have eyes set on PSAC/National Championships

Aaron Marrie, Junior Rocket Contributor

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The Slippery Rock University pole vault indoor clearance record currently sits at 4.01 meter. Junior Maddy Marshall set that record during last season at an Edinboro University Invitational. 

So far this season, 3.87 meters is the highest clearance by any Division II athlete. Redshirt senior Courtney McQuaide recorded that mark in the first meet of the indoor season, yet both her and Marshall are performing at an elite level this season there is no stop in sight.

McQuaide has reached the national mark for pole vaulting each time this season, and Marshall has reached it all but one week. McQuaide is the only member of either the men’s or women’s indoor track team to hit this mark in all meets this season.

Both Marshall and McQuaide are not new to the national stage. Last season, both women made the trip to nationals and both placed in the top 20. McQuaide cleared 3.82 meters to secure fifth place and All-American honors. Marshall was not far behind with a 3.57 meter clearance to place No. 16 at the NCAA Championships.

“They’re both phenomenal athletes,” assistant head coach Bill Williams started. “The main thing for them is their experience in the event; they’ve been doing this event since high school.”

Williams added that pole vaulting has a huge physical impact, and both women have continued to work extremely hard to become the best athletes they can physically be.

“[Pole vaulting] takes a lot of core strength, a lot of stability throughout the body, a lot of speed and explosive power and takes a lot of gymnastic work as well,” Williams said.

As the women look ahead to their meet in Allendale, Michigan this Friday at Grand Valley, McQuaide looks forward to the event and the energy it brings.

“Every year since my junior year we’ve gone to Grand Valley, and it’s usually just a really big event,” McQuaide said. “There’s a lot of great athletes there, so it’s a pretty exciting event. It gets pretty loud there, and it’s a good place to hit a mark and PR. And I just look forward to the energy.”

Even though this is McQuaide’s last indoor season, she aims to get back to a 13-foot vault goal to end out her SRU indoor career.

“I know that I have a lot more in me than what I’ve shown so far this year. It’s just a matter of getting right with my head and on the runway and being on the right poles. And it’s just all timing up, hitting that peak performance, hopefully around indoor nationals,” McQuaide said.

From one Slippery Rock star to another, Marshall recorded her season high of 3.87 meters last weekend at the Youngstown State University Invitational. 

She has recorded just one vault that was below NCAA Division II level this season earlier during her second visit at YSU. 

For the women, staying and competing at such an elite level is both rewarding and challenging as the season progresses.

“I think it’s just nice to go through all of preseason, and challenge yourself with all the hard workouts and everything,” Marshall said. “Getting closer to meet days, with our heavy lifting still going on, and then showing up to the meet and still proving how high we can jump is just nice.” 

Marshall is just as ready to get back to Allendale for the third time and compete again with some of the best collegiate athletes.

“I’m really looking forward to all the competition that’s gonna be there. There’s usually some pretty good vaulters, so it will be nice to see some of the girls that are already on the list for nationals. It will be nice to compete against them,” Marshall said.

Both McQuaide and Marshall have created a national reputation during their careers at Slippery Rock. 

As they look forward to this Friday’s meet, they will get their first test of elite talent this season. For McQuaide, she has a goal in mind, of surpassing 13 feet. And as for Marshall, she’s just ready for the competition. 

As they move closer to PSAC and National Championships, the women continue to perform as best as they can.

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Pole vault duo have eyes set on PSAC/National Championships