Kennedy Shank of Northern pole vaults into rare air, both literally and figuratively.

Shank’s best vault during the Polar Bear’s girls’ track and field season is an 11-10, the best in the midstate.

That qualified her for last weekend’s Penn Relays, in which only 20 vaulters competed. Of the 20, Shank was one of only five girls to be in the Penn Relays for back-to-back years.

When and how did you get started in track and field, and the pole vault?
I stared in seventh grade for track and field. I just thought I’d try it for fun. I didn’t think at all at the time that I’d do pole vault, but the high school coach said I’d be good at it. After a couple of weeks I started to get the hang of it. I have a gymnastics background, so that helps too.

What goes through your mind as you are preparing for a difficult vault?
I would just tell myself that it’s my last vault, even if it’s not. I just say to myself that I have to make it. Then, I always visualize what I’m supposed to do just before.

What was it like find out you were returning to the Penn Relays?
I was excited. I went there last year as well, but I think this time was a little better because [the qualifying height] was a little higher.

Since you were at the Penn Relays before, did you expect it of yourself to make it back this year? 
Yes and no. Yes, because I was there last year, but no because I could have had a bad season or got injured. You never know what could happen.

How would you describe the experience of being in the Penn Relays?
The atmosphere is awesome, especially since I’m in pole vault. I can stand in the infield and take it all in.

What goals do you have for the rest of this season?
I can always improve. I’d like to clear 12 feet by the end of the season.


Shank Vaulter Magazine
Shank Vaulter Magazine

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