Jenn Thill has always had an air about her.
Whether she’s 13 feet upside down in the pole vault or performing dismounts off the parallel bars as a gymnast, this Lancaster senior has high standards.
Jenn Thill looked like Jenn Thrill at last week’s Section VI Indoor Track and Field Championships as she cleared 12 feet, 8 inches to claim the top jump in New York State and No. 7 in the nation. She, along with 42 other girls and 41 boys will represent Section VI at Saturday’s New York State Indoor Track and Field Championships at Cornell. It will be Thill’s third trip to states, and to no one’s surprise, she’s the top seed in the pole vault.
Thill learned the importance of keeping your composure from the best. She was invited to vault with Olympic Gold Medalist Jenn Suhr last summer during Suhr’s Victory Tour on the streets of her hometown of Fredonia. There Suhr cleared a super-human 15 feet, 10 inches, which was the world’s best by a woman that year. That bettered her 2012 London Olympics performance of 15 feet, 7 inches.
“Having the experience to vault with Jenn Suhr – that was cool. I watch videos of them all the time, and it pumps me up before meets. There was a lot of adrenaline there for sure,” said Thill. “I realized how calm she is during her competitions and I’ve really been working on that, trying to keep my cool before my vault, and do what I know I’ve worked on, and my drills.”
Thill delights in having two n’s in her first name like Suhr. She finds Suhr and fellow Lancaster grad Mary Saxer totally inspirational. Saxer went to Notre Dame out of Lancaster and was invited to the Olympic Trials where she earned first alternate.
The petite Thill, who is 5-foot-1, 107 pounds, realizes the chance to join their small sorority is there if she continues to reach new heights. She’ll proceed on the road to her goals this fall at the University at Buffalo, where she has signed a national letter of intent. She also will study occupational therapy.
Thill would like to end her indoor career clearing 13 feet at the state meet. She made three attempts at that height in the sectionals and appeared a few tweaks away from making it. As a pole vaulter moves up in height they need to adjust to holding their vertical position at the top of their jump longer. That’s where Thill falls back on her gymnastics background.
“I’ve done a lot of drills where there’s that motion of holding the core up,” said Thill, who also holds the school record in the triple jump. “Once the beginning of the vault is good, I know what to do, it’s just like an entrenched-in-my-mind kind of thing. As soon as I take off, I start smiling almost when I know it’s a good vault.”