For as long as she can remember, Elizabeth Kaht has been enthusiastic about chronicling history.
“I’ve always loved telling stories, and history is just that,” said Kaht, a Richmond-Burton graduate who is student teaching this fall as a senior at Carthage College. “Being a history teacher, it means that I get to tell stories every day.”
This month, Kaht wrote her own track and field story for NCAA Division III Carthage.
The senior pole vaulter cleared 11 feet, 6¼ inches at Illinois Wesleyan’s Keck Select meet to break her school’s 5-year-old indoor record by one-half inch.
“I’ve been frustrated because I felt like I’ve plateaued at 11-1, 11-2, 11-3,” she said. “Having that school record, finally these years at Carthage have meant something. The pressure is kind of off, but I want to make that record a little higher.”
On her record-setting day Feb. 6, Kaht hardly felt as if she would make history.
“I did not have a good warm-up,” she said. “I missed my first jump at the opening height, which I rarely do. I was kind of rattled.”
Kaht said she cleared the following two heights on her first attempt and knew the bar was headed up to 11-6¼.
“As I was walking back on the runway, about a quarter of the team walked over and started cheering me on,” she said. “I don’t know if they knew it was for the record. I felt a lot of pressure. They all lined the runway.”
Feeling more adrenaline than usual, Kaht said she adjusted her grip up the pole by about two fingers.
“Then I just ran,” she said. “I went for it.”
Kaht cleared the bar and allowed herself a moment of celebration.
“When I knew I cleared the bar, I did a little fist pump on the way down,” she said. “I had that moment. I was so excited.”
Kaht’s top indoor vault ranks fourth in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin this season.
Her effort bumped Stephanie Moy’s 11-5¾ vault in 2011 from the record book.
“I’ve been staring at her record for a long time, and I’m still staring at her outdoor record,” she said.
Moy’s outdoor mark of 11-7 has stood since 2009, giving Kaht motivation for the outdoor season.
Despite spending her days teaching at Westosha Central High School in Paddock Lake, Wisconsin, Kaht wasn’t ready to end her athletic career.
“When I learned of this (teaching assignment) last year, I knew I wasn’t ready to be done competing,” she said. “I wasn’t ready to be done vaulting. I knew I wanted my last season.”