Lacy Harris, a former Cimarron High School athlete and current sophomore at Colorado State University-Pueblo, competed in the NCAA Division II Track and Field Championships May 23 in Pueblo, Colo.
Harris, the reigning Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference pole vault champion and CSU-Pueblo’s lone national entrant, placed 10th in her national debut clearing 12’-1.5” on her first attempt.
“I’m pretty excited about how my vaulting went this year. There was a lot of progress,” Harris said. “A big difference for me was the weight room. It requires a lot of strength, both physically and mentally. At this level you can be talented, but if you don‘t get stronger and have a strong work ethic, you‘ll quickly get passed.”
The Lady ThunderWolf has shown remarkable improvement during her two years at the Colorado school and reached a personal best of 12’-6.75” to win the RMAC championship in early May.
At Cimarron High School, Harris was an all-around athlete who garnered all-state honors in volleyball, basketball and track. Harris is still a multi-event performer of sorts for the CSU-Pueblo ThunderWolves and competes in the sprints, hurdles, relays and pole vault.
In high school, Harris was the state runner-up in the pole vault, finishing second to teammate Annie Stirling, who set an all-time New Mexico High School state record of 12’-1” in the pole vault. Harris finished second at 10’-0”.
Harris has competed against her former teammate, who now competes for the University of New Mexico, and they still maintain a friendly rivalry. Harris and Stirling split 1-1 during the recently completed track season. Stirling recently cleared a personal best of 12’-5” and placed 7th in the Mountain West Conference championships.
In addition to her heroics at the RMAC championships, Harris was named the athlete of the week for her outstanding performances during the Colorado School of Mines Invitational in Golden, Colo. On that week of May 1, Harris won the pole vault and 100-meter hurdles and placed second in the 200 meter dash and second in the 4 X 100 meter relay.
“I started out as a heptathalete, but coach decided that I would be a better vaulter and I concentrated on that,” Harris said. “I still run sprints, hurdles and relays to help the team out, but I’m primarily a vaulter now.”
Harris was also recently named to the United States Track and Field and Cross-Country Coaches Association All-region team.
Improvement for Harris has been dramatic and steady going from 10’-0” in high school to 11’-3.4” in her freshman year at CSU-Pueblo to 12’-6.75” as a sophomore. She has owned the school record for the ThunderWolves since her first meet as a freshman.
She hopes to continue the trend of improving by leaps and bounds by working out this summer with her vault coach Mark Pearson and his son Sam Pearson, who recently graduated from college and is an Olympic hopeful who vaults around the 18’ mark.
“Coach gave me a couple of weeks off, but we’ll hit the workouts hard in a few weeks,” Harris said. “We have a couple of competitions planned for the summer with an event in Colorado Springs on July 27, and then we’ll vault at the Colorado State Fair later on in the Summer. Basically in both competitions, a lot of college vaulters and Olympic-caliber vaulters get together and have fun competing and promoting pole vaulting.”
Harris’ focus is to continue to improve in the pole vault and do better at nationals now that she has an idea of what to expect. She has also raised her personal goals and hopes to compete in the United States Olympic trials in summer 2016. The Olympic qualifying standard is 14’-7”, while the provisional height is 14’-1”.
Athletes that hit the qualifying standard automatically get invited to the U.S. trails, while athletes that hit the provisional mark are invited if all the allotted slots in the pole vault finals are not full.
“It’s a big goal, but you never know. I’ll keep working at becoming a better vaulter and helping my team out,” Harris said. “As one of three juniors on the team with no seniors, I’ll have added responsibilities next year.”