Nageotte Returns To AU As One Of World's Best

Photo courtesy of USATF.
Photo courtesy of USATF.



Track and field has taken former Ashland University national champion Katie Nageotte many places.

In February, Nageotte was at the 2018 USATF Indoor Championships, winning a national title in the women's pole vault – and becoming the fourth-best indoor women's pole vaulter in world history in the process.

Earlier this month, Nageotte was on Team USA for the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham, Great Britain, and took fifth place in her signature event.

On Tuesday (March 6), Nageotte was back in Conard Field House on the Ashland University campus, visiting her brother, current Eagle senior pole vaulter Andrew Nageotte, as well as former coaches.

She also took time to reflect on her most recent track and field journey, which includes a national meet in which she not only shattered her personal-best mark by six inches (to 4.91 meters/16-feet-1¼), but also didn't miss a vault until she attempted to go to for a world-record mark of 5.04 meters/16-feet-6½ after winning the event.

"I really tried to keep all the emotion out of it," Nageotte said of the point where she was going past her PR. "My body was feeling the adrenaline. It was definitely exciting, but I wasn't processing the PRs. I was so excited, but it was more of, 'She cleared that bar. I have to clear that now.' I focused on the same three things every jump.

"I've never PRed more than once in a meet, ever. That's another part of it that made it not seem real."

That mark of 4.91 meters puts Nageotte behind only the United States' Jennifer Suhr (world-record of 5.03 meters), Russia's Yelena Isinbayeva (top mark of 5.01 meters) and the United States' Sandi Morris (top mark of 4.95 meters) in the history of women's indoor pole vaulting.

It has been quite an ascension for Nageotte, who spent two seasons at Dayton before transferring to Ashland for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 track seasons. She won two NCAA Division II national championships in the pole vault in 2013 – one indoors and one outdoors, and was a three-time All-American under the tutelage of then-Eagle assistant coach Denny Steele.

"At that point, especially, I was struggling so much mentally with my jump," Nageotte said of her transfer. "I had been told most of my career that I had the potential to be really, really good, and it was killing me that my head was getting in the way of that. I just wanted to get to a place where I was having fun jumping again.

"He (Steele) fixed me. We just worked really slowly. It was just a year of really getting my confidence back. By the time that year ended, I was so excited and ready that I wanted to move back to a full approach. But that was all him. I owe him my entire career."

Through the 2012-13 track season, Nageotte's top vault was 4.33 meters – meaning she has gained more than a half-meter over the course of the last five years.

At both indoor nationals and indoor worlds, Nageotte was reunited with another former Eagle All-American, men's 800-meter run standout Drew Windle. Windle earned the silver medal in the 800 at indoor worlds, and has become one of the fastest men in the event on both the national and international stage.

"It's so fun, because Drew is someone…I would consider us good friends," Nageotte said. "We've had a pretty good friendship throughout the years. So to be able to cheer each other on at some of these bigger competitions…I'm so happy for him.

"We can kind of show that it's not about what division you go to. I'm excited that we can show kids that you go wherever you feel you can thrive, and it doesn't matter what division you do that in."

Nageotte's immediate future includes rest, and then back to training for a month in Washington state prior to competing in Diamond League events internationally.

"It's fun, because I've been able to get a sense of a freedom with picking meets now," she said. "Before, it was take whatever you get."