‘It is definitely a thrill seeker’s event’

Gasparino flies for Clemson, Crafford sets W&M freshman record, ‘ready to get back’ after wrist-smashing crash

If college is for growing, then Christy Gasparino (DHS Class of 2010) might need new sneakers.

The former Wave track star moved on to Clemson in the fall of 2010 expecting to continue her track career as a high jumper and multi-event performer in hurdles and long jump.

Only, after conferring with her new coach, she decided to switch to pole vault, an event that she had never even attempted.

A year and a half later, Gasparino has set the Clemson women’s vault record and recently participated in the NCAA outdoor track and field championships in Des Moines, Iowa.

There she grows!

“What Christy has accomplished at the Division I college level is very rare,” said Glenn Crafford, the DHS vault coach. “It’s like going to college after a great high school soccer career,  then deciding to play basketball instead, and becoming the all-time scoring leader in two seasons.”

How did it happen?

“It was actually my coach’s idea to have me try the pole vault,” said Gasparino.  “Having a gymnastics background is one of the main reasons he saw potential in me.

“I was never really nervous when switching events. Honestly, I was more excited about it than anything. I got to try something new and different.”

And she got to take her time.

“Mario Wilson, the Clemson jumps coach, gave me the confidence to try this event,” she said. “The biggest challenge when I was learning the event was that it is not an event that you can learn overnight. It takes time and practice.”

It’s taken very little time for Gasparino to master the air.

“There are so many little details that go into a jump that you can’t just rush into it,” Gasparino added. “However, once you start to learn the event it can create a great feeling. The most thrilling part of it has to be clearing the bar when trying for a new personal record.

“It is definitely a thrill seeker’s event.”

Gasparino had the benefit of a coach willing to spend the time to assist her development.

“Coach Wilson coaches the pole vault, as well as the other jump events,” she said. “This season we had four women vaulters, but there were no male vaulters.”

As a result she received a lot of expert attention to help develop her technique.

“So far I have jumped 4.10 meters (13′ 5.5″) in competition, which is currently the Clemson outdoor school record,” Gasparino said. “At the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Championships I knew I had to have a clean meet and have as few misses as possible.”

The weather tried to get in the way.

“The wind was tricky that day, changing from a tail wind to a head wind, so I was constantly adjusting my starting point to make sure I had good attempts,” she said. “I ended up clearing 4.00 meters (13′ 1.5″) which earned me third place at ACCs.”

Gasparino cleared 4.10 meters in the NCAA regionals to quality for the NCAA championships.

Not bad for an athlete in only the second year of her new career.

“In my second season competing in the pole vault, I achieved two of my goals, to be All-ACC and qualify for the NCAA Championships,” she said.

What are the long term plans for her track career?

“I definitely see myself training after college,” said Gasparino. “I am still new to the event and feel as if I have a lot more to learn.

“As for my goals next year, my main one would be to place at NCAAs. I want to be able to put some points on the board and help my team towards a national championship.”

Elizabeth Crafford (DHS 2011) started her fist college spring track season on a strong note.

In her first meet of the season in late March, she won the Fred Hardy Invitational at the University of Richmond, with a jump of 12’5.75”, tying her personal best achieved during the indoor season and breaking the William and Mary women’s freshman outdoor vault record.

The following week she entered the Colonial Relays, an early season meet hosted by William and Mary.

“I was really looking forward to a strong meet on my home runway,” Crafford said.

Unfortunately, the elements weren’t cooperative.

On her first jump in competition, she caught a strong, gusting headwind, resulting in her attempting to abort the vault.

“I knew as soon as I took off I was going to be short of the landing pit, so I tried to adjust and land as best I could,” said Crafford. “I reached out to break my fall as I was coming back on the runway.”

She broke more than her fall.

“My left wrist shattered as I hit the ground.”

One unlucky jump and her season was through.

“I had surgery the following week to have a plate put in my wrist to assist the healing,” she added.

Now three months after the injury, Crafford has been given the green light from her doctors.

“Fortunately, I was able to continue running, so except for being away from vaulting, I’ve been able to stay in pretty good shape,” Crafford added. “I’ve really missed jumping, so I’m ready to get back.”

By The Darien Times

From http://www.darientimes.com/5989/pole-vaulting-it-is-definitely-a-thrill-seekers-event/

Christy Gasparino

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