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TRACK: Saxer impresses early in collegiate career

Beltz, Jordan | Thursday, January 26, 2006

Freshman pole vaulter Mary Saxer came to Notre Dame with high expectations based on her high school accomplishments, but not even Saxer could have predicted how quickly she would excel at the next level.

The Blue-Gold meet is traditionally the first official meet of the track and field indoor season. But there was nothing traditional about Saxer’s accomplishment.

The freshman posted a vault of 12-feet, 11.5 inches, which provisionally qualified her for the NCAA Indoor Championship. She also would go on to win the pole vault competition at both the Purdue Invitational and the Notre Dame Opener.

It’s safe to say the four-year letter winner from Central High in Lancaster, N.Y. has burst onto the scene in a big way.

“The transition from high school to college has been difficult because of the change in coaching styles,” Saxer said. “However, it has been a little easier since I came from a big high school; the competition is on the same level.”

Her remarkable performance right out of the box was the perfect transition from a high school career full of accolades.

She holds the high school record in the pole vault, a mark she broke herself an amazing nine different times. She won the indoor and outdoor New York state championships in the pole vault, and was also named the 2005 National High School Athlete of the Year.

“I always have expected to perform well, I just wasn’t sure how soon to expect the results that I have been looking for,” Saxer said. “It felt good to perform at such a high level right away.”

Saxer has been leading the charge for a very impressive trio of pole-vaulters this season for the Irish. Saxer, along with senior Laura Huarte and fellow rookie Kate Mattoon, has helped form a formidable trio.

“We have always expected Mary to be an excellent performer, but for her to perform this well this early is a very pleasant surprise,” head coach Joe Piane said.

Although Saxer has already turned in a great freshman campaign, she is not 100-percent satisfied with her performance to date. Her personal best in the pole vault, which she set in high school, is 14-foot-3.

“My goal for the remainder of the season is to just get back to where I was last season. I want to be able to consistently clear the heights that I was clearing when I was at my peak last year,” Saxer said. “It would be great if my provisional vault holds up and I end up making the NCAA Championship, but my main goal is just to continue to improve my marks.”

If her past history is any indication, there is no reason to believe that she won’t at the very least reach her peak level over the next four years, if not exceed it.

Get the erasers ready, the record books are about to be rewritten.

The track and field squad returns to action this Friday at Loftus Sports Center with the Notre Dame Invitational, a tune up for the prestigious Meyo Invitational.