The NAIA women’s pole vault saw a youth resurgence a year ago with three of the top-six finishers at the National Championships underclassmen. This crop of young vaulters mean fans should expect another exciting season of women’s pole vault in the NAIA.
2013 Outdoor champ Jeslyn Zimmerly returns for Indiana Tech after her win at the outdoor national meet and a third-place finish at the indoor championships. Zimmerly’s ended her season strong with her top vault of the year hit at the outdoor championships. Her clearance of 3.70 meters (12-1.5 ft.) at the meet in Marion, Ind., was the No. 4 leap in the NAIA in 2013. The freshman Zimmerly is primed for another outstanding season and could very easily defend her outdoor title come May 2014.
Zimmerly’s stiffest competition will come from Bethel’s Whitney Grace. She finished just one spot behind the Indiana Tech star at both the indoor and outdoor championships last season. The sophomore tallied the No. 3 mark in the NAIA in 2013 with her vault of 3.71 meters (12-2 ft.). The clearance was the top among those returning for the 2014 campaign and could possibly be the boost she needs to take over the No. 1 spot in this season’s standings and ahead of her in-state rival, Zimmerly.
Grace’s Bethel teammate Kate Carr is also looking to remain atop the 2013 rankings this season. The senior-to-be notched a runner-up finish on a leap of 3.55 meters (11-7.75 ft.) at the outdoor championships with her mark that was among the top-20 in the NAIA last year. Carr will try to make her senior year a big one.
Alicia Dorko of Aquinas will be the wildcard in 2013. The senior-to-be had the fourth-best mark of the 2013 outdoor season as she was level with Zimmerly’s 3.70 meter clearance for her top bar of the year. While Dorko has shown flashes of excellence in her first three years in Michigan she has also been inconsistent. Last year she took 14th at the outdoor championships and posted a fifth-place finish at the NAIA’s indoor meet.