CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) –
Jenna Wexter comes from a bloodline of athletes. But until some family health issues derailed their plans, the Wexters had just one focus.
“My family was all gymnasts from really young, and we ended up having some issues with spinal problems that we found out are kind of genetic with our family, so pretty much all of us quit,” Wexter said.
With her family’s health concerns in mind, Jenna opted into track and field, where she was finally introduced to the pole vault as a high school sophomore.
“I liked that it had that danger thing with it,” Wexter said. “It looked fun because it was more of an extreme sport, I thought. And going from gymnastics, where you’re used to letting go of bars and flying all over the place all the time, it just seemed like a thing I would really like.”
And once she got to the University of Northern Iowa, her pole vault prowess paid off in immediate dividends — and school records quickly began to fall.
“Honestly, I didn’t really know what the school record was — I just knew that I wanted to jump higher, and that was pretty much my goal the whole time,” Wexter said. “And then when I found out the first time that I broke it, it was just kind of added fun to it.”
“She started putting some things together, technically her first year,” said UNI Track & Field coach Dan Steele. “And then she became a student of what she was doing and got really, really good. And next thing you know, she started knocking out school records almost every track meet. And now she’s certainly one of the best pole vaulters in the Midwest.”
Wexter’s parents make it to most of Jenna’s home meets. She said having that family bond is something that both Wexter and Coach Steele can appreciate.
“It’s really nice, when I’m done, if it was a bad day or if it was a good day, to go up and share that with my family in the stands,” Wexter said.
“They’ve sort of set a standard as a family that they just are excellent at what they do, and now she’s excellent at what she does on the track and in the classroom,” Steele said.