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Katie Jones Won Gold at Big Ten Indoor Track Championships

Katie Jones of South Williamsport made a statement earlier this year at the Big Ten Indoor Track and Field Championships by taking gold for PSU in women’s pole vaulting with a height of 4.25 meters (13’11-1/4”). Her nearest competitor was Jessica Bray from Perdue, who cleared a height of 4.15 meters. In addition to taking the Big Ten title, Jones set a personal record and an all-time school record for Penn State. The previous winner for PSU in women’s pole vaulting was Sara Dougherty who won in 2004.

Jones began her career in gymnastics. For many gymnasts that aren’t Olympic bound the options to continue in the sport are somewhat limited. Pole vaulting is one such option and Katie wanted to give it a try. Pole vaulting demands strength and body awareness; two things Jones has in abundance. “Vaulters often use gymnastic drills in their training and gymnastics is a great background for vaulting,” said Jones.

In high school she was a year-round athlete, competing in soccer, basketball, and track. Her freshman year she won districts in pole vaulting and qualified for states. Her sophomore year she won districts again and took 4th at states with height of 11 feet. Showing potential, Jones decided to up her training her junior year by cutting back to indoor and outdoor track and soccer only. She spent her Winter season also training at Vaultworx in Harrisburg, where she received specialized pole-vaulting instruction 2-3 days per week. Her Winter training paid off with Jones winning both district and state titles with heights of 12’11” 1/2 and 13’4”.

It was also around this time that colleges began to contact her. Division I schools such as Virginia, Virginia Tech, UNC, Duke, Villanova, PSU, and others all showed interest. When asked how she settled upon Penn State, Jones said that her choice of college was dependent upon having her program of interest, Kinesiology, and being within an 8-hour car ride from home. PSU fit both criteria.

Her Senior year Jones said that she trusted her ability and set out to break the PA indoor and outdoor state records which she did with a height of 13’9” at indoor nationals and 13’7” at outdoor nationals.

“The transition to college was a big adjustment.”, Jones said. “I needed to get used to college life, new coaches, new training staff, and an entirely new atmosphere. It was much more intense training.”

Though still adjusting to college-level athletics, she still managed to clear heights of 13’5” indoors and 13’6” outdoors which allowed her to place in the Big Ten.

Unfortunately, due to injury, Jones needed to take off her sophomore year from competition. She was, however, able to come back strong this year competing as a red-shirt sophomore. “I was in good shape and focused a lot on technique. Leading up to the Big Ten Championships, I was able to clear 13’8”, three weekends in a row. You want to be consistent at the big heights.”, Jones said.

When asked if she had any advice for people facing adversity, Jones said, “To people who are injured or just in a slump, keep pushing. You’ll get to the other side and once you taste success, it will all be worth it.”

For now, Jones said she just wants to focus on the current season and keep progressing. One of her goals this season is to consistently hit over 14’. Since she is a red-shirt sophomore, she is eligible for two more seasons.

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