Junior pole vaulter Abbey Aide made Minot State University track and field history Saturday when she became the first Beaver athlete to post a Division II provisional national-qualifying mark.
Her vault of 12 feet, 0.75 inches is the 10th best in the nation, with the top 16 athletes at the end of the indoor season qualifying for nationals in Birmingham, Ala., on March 8.
It was Aide's first meet since tearing her ACL in April 2011. While Aide was pleasantly surprised by her result, she's looking to eventually surpass 12-11.75.
Abbey Aide competes for Minot State University in the pole vault during the Dakota Athletic Conference indoor meet in 2011. Aide, now a junior, won the event at the Bemidji State Super 8 Open on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Michael Linnell/MSU sports information.
That's the automatic-qualifying mark for the national meet. If Aide reaches that height, she won't be in danger of being eclipsed later in the season for a spot in the finals.
More importantly, though, the 12-11.75 mark is the personal best of Aide's older sister Kelsey, 24, who was a four-time NAIA national champion at Dickinson State.
"We are such a competitive family so smack talk started so young," Abbey Aide said. "Even before pole vaulting, whatever we were doing. ... (Kelsey's) biggest jump is 12-11.75, nearly 13 (feet), so I've been trying to get that for the longest time. I keep telling her I'm gonna beat her so hopefully this happens."
The Aides from Bottineau have an affinity for pole vaulting. Mark Aide, Abbey's father, performed in the event at Bismarck High and Dickinson State.
He coached at Bottineau High School and at Minot State during Abbey's first two years, and briefly constructed a pole-vaulting setup in the family's back yard. Abbey's oldest sister, 27-year old Katie, vaulted in high school and played volleyball in college.
Her younger brother, Harrison, is a junior at Bottineau and is already a two-time Class B state champion.
"Just because my sisters did it, I guess I was just always in the gym with them and wanted to learn," said Abbey Aide, who picked up the event as a fifth-grader. "I guess I had a step up on everyone else with my dad as a coach and wanting to learn."
Aide's big mark on Saturday capped a solid season-opening showing for MSU. The Beavers had five event winners at the Bemidji State University Super 8 Open, winning the men's and women's pole vault and 5,000-meter runs and also the men's title in the 600 meters.
"We had eight personal bests and five event winners," MSU coach Stu Melby said. "It was a good start for us. For almost all of our returners, even if they didn't set personal bests, they had better times or marks in their first meet this year than they did at the same point of last season."
For Aide, the meet was affirmation that she can compete on a national level - and maybe even challenge her sister's personal record soon.
"I'm not on the biggest poles that I can be," she said. "I think there's most definitely a lot of room for improvement. I'm really excited about it."
Banged-up wrestling team returns home
After 10 consecutive road matches, the Beaver wrestling team hosts Minnesota State-Moorhead at 7 p.m. today at the MSU Dome.
The Beavers, already unlucky this season with injuries, experienced a malfunctioning heater on the way home from a dual with Upper Iowa in Fayette this weekend.
MSU coach Robin Ersland said it got so cold on the 700-mile trip that water bottles on the floor of the vehicle froze, prompting the coach to stop and buy blankets for his wrestlers. Some still came out of the ordeal sick.
"I'm pleased that no one died. Let's put it that way," Ersland said. "That's how freakin' cold it was."
As of Tuesday, Ersland didn't know who would be available for Thursday's dual against the Dragons (6-3 overall, 1-1 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference).
"They have a very good dual meet team," Ersland said. "They gave (No. 13) Augustana all they could handle and Augustana is one of the better teams in the conference. I expect it to be a tough match for us. We don't match up real well with them."
With many of his wrestlers dealing with nagging injuries, Ersland said he may have to sit some starters - and potentially sacrifice points in upcoming duals - in order to have healthy individuals more prepared to compete in year-end regional and national meets.
"We've gotta get guys healthy for the end of the year, and right now that may mean sitting a few guys," he said. "Right now, as a third-year program, we're not deep enough that we can sit our starters and not be hurting."
Soccer team's McPartland honored
Minot State University senior Tara McPartland was one of 80 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference seniors to earn the Myles Brand All-Academic with Distinction Award.
The honor, named for the late NCAA President Myles Brand, is given to senior student-athletes who have a cumulative GPA of 3.75 or higher, are exhausting their eligibility and are on track to graduate.
McPartland, a midfielder majoring in communication disorders, scored five goals during her senior season to help the Beavers win the NSIC tournament and reach the NCAA Central Region tournament.