Senior Mackenzie Fields emerged from minimal pole vault experience in high school to the UC school record holder during a spectacular career.
By Katie Mann/Special to GoBearcats.com
CINCINNATI - When Mackenzie Fields attended Mariemont High School, a pole-vault pit didn't exist. Occasionally, at a practice held at Turpin High, Fields would give the skill a shot.
It took Fields a couple years to gain a knack. Her freshman year she started jumping with her highest jump around eight feet. By her senior year she reached 11 feet, 9 inches.
Four years later, finishing up a UC senior year including two Big East Athlete of the Week awards and adding a second Big East title this past weekend, she can only laugh at those early days.
"The other day, I was looking back at some newspaper clippings that I sent to colleges trying to get recruited," she said. "These were from my junior and senior year, and I was going over the bar backwards. What was I thinking sending that horrible form to college coaches?"
Fortunately for the Bearcats, coaches ignored the form.
After sending out recruitment forms to several different colleges, Fields chose to join the UC track team because of all the great people she met on her recruit visit.
"I had been to other schools and none of them felt as welcoming, fun and friendly, and supportive as UC," she said.
Through her progression with the Bearcats, Fields experienced pitfalls such as hurting her hamstring in her second year and undergoing foot surgery in her fourth. Due to the injuries, Fields began to lose confidence in her abilities, because of this she endured frequent rehab and conditioning. But by receiving extra workouts and constant support by coach Kris Mack, Fields began to realize that she could do it.
"I have tried to teach her what it means to be a consistent vaulter and how mental strength is what determines the outcome of the bigger meets," said Mack, "I try to expose her to many different situations and scenarios in practice so that she always look back and say, 'Oh yeah, I worked through this before and know how to overcome it."
On March 30, Fields broke the school record of 14'1.25" at the Nikiloff Invitational. Fields was also named Big East Women's Field Athlete of the Week for her first place finish at the Jesse Owens Track Classic three weeks later.
Currently, Fields is planning to train for the 2016 Olympic trials and Olympics in Rio. Fields will need to vault over 15 feet in order to go to the trials and a bit more to make the Olympic team.
"She is one of the strongest girls I have ever worked with and I have enjoyed that process of teaching her to use that strength and power to vault," adds Mack.