Mackenzie Stang pole vaults her way to fame

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Sydnie Parker
A&E Editor

For most people the idea of flinging oneself through the air with nothing besides a flimsy metal bar to keep you from hurling to the ground, does not sound too appealing. But Senior Pole Vaulter and captain of track team Makenzie Stang seems to do it with such laid back grace, it could make anyone want to strap on some spikes and don a pair of those itty bitty spandex shorts.

“ I grew up on it, my Dad coached for UC Berkeley’s Pole Vault team, so it was sort of in my blood,” said Stang.

With a Dad with a knack for training pole vault state champions, like Kevin Stang it’s easy to see that there is no shortage of pole vault talent in this family.

“I started pole vaulting in high school and then went on to compete at the junior college I attended. After I began coaching for Memorial High School in Newark, the girl I trained ended up making it 2nd in state, and then the next year I had a guy who placed 1st. I was then approached by UC Berkeley, where I coached for 5 years before deciding that coaching and being a firefighter was keeping me away from home to much, so I made the decision to step down and came and coached for Dougherty Valley High School.” said Kevin Stang.

But just because Makenzie has raw talent, it definitely does not mean she doesn’t work incredibly hard to get better. Last year she faced a hard defeat when she came in 8th at a pre qualifying meet that would have made her eligible to compete at the Meet of Champions. She was one spot away, and at that moment she became determined to get better so she could compete the next year.

“I came in 8th place, so I promised myself that I would do it next year. So I began training harder by starting weight training, and attending special classes that focus on making you faster. I would practice pole vaulting every day even if that just meant standing in my front yard bending the pole against the curb,” said Stang.

The hard work eventually paid off and she made it to the Meet of Champions the following year. Currently Makenzie has a PR or personal record of 10 ft 2in which is 2 inches away from Cal’s school record. A goal Cal pole vault coach Mike King see’s Makenzie reaching with no problem.

“It’s not unusual for a pole vaulter to improve by 6 in at a meet, so Makenzie beating the school record is definitely a reachable goal,” said Coach King.

Makenzie has come along way from when she first started pole vaulting at the age of 9. She has sacrificed so much to arrive at the place she is today. Besides weight training, speed training,and strength techniques, Makenzie attends two practices a day one at Cal and then another at Daughtrey. On top of the weekday practices, she goes to all day meets on the weekends.

“ I have had to give up a lot of my free time, and hanging out with my friends, so when I am up in the air I think I need to get over this bar, I have worked too hard and sacrificed too much not to succeed,” said Stang.

Even with a rigorous practice schedule and a pretty challenging class schedule, Makenzie has excelled at much less dangerous activity. Choir, and is almost complete with her first year on the Madrigal choral team.

“I hope when I am a senior, I can juggle things a s well as she can. She does so much and she gets everything done. I am really proud of her,” said Stang’s sister freshman Kylie Stang.

In the future Makenzie plans to attend the University of Hawaii Manoa in the fall and will be majoring in History with a minor in musical theatre. With talent and determination there is no doubt that her future is soaring higher than an olympic vault.