Abbey Aide understands the precarious nature of pole vaulting.
A week after breaking her own Minot State University record in the event by clearing 12 feet, 6.25 inches, Aide failed to complete a successful vault in three attempts at the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Outdoor Championships on May 10 and recorded her first "no height" of the season.
The junior from Bottineau will look to put that disappointment behind her Thursday in Pueblo, Colo., when she becomes the first MSU athlete to compete in the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championship.
Minot State University junior Abbey Aide competes in the pole vault at the Dickinson State Blue Hawk Games in 2011. Aide will vault at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championship on Thursday in Pueblo, Colo. Photo courtesy of Michael Linnell/MSU sports information.
"That was too bad, but you gotta put it aside and focus, have good practices and just move on," Aide said. "You can't keep thinking, 'What if I no height?' Because it might happen again. If it happens, it happens, but you've gotta think more positive and go in there with a better attitude."
Since the NSIC meet, Aide has spent time training with her father, Mark, in Bottineau and doing light workouts at the MSU Dome. She said she hopes to clear 13 feet, a mark she considers both realistic and high enough to put her in the top eight, which is the cut-off for All-American status. Aide's school record is the 11th-highest vault in Division II this season.
MSU coach Stu Melby agreed that 13 feet is an attainable goal for Aide and believes it could be more than enough to put her in the top eight. Ashland (Ohio) senior Katie Nageotte enters the meet with the highest mark of the season at 14-06.75 and six others have cleared 13 feet, but Melby said only one pole vaulter at the 2012 nationals improved on her qualifying mark.
"It's a tough event and a lot of things can go on and some people may be able to deal with things that go on better than others," Melby said. "It's a matter of just inches that could separate eighth and 12th or eighth and 16th. It's a fun event. It's a very challenging event. You never know what happens, you just gotta be ready to do your best."
Aide's best could give her family bragging rights. Abbey is still chasing the 12-11.75 mark of her sister, Kelsey, who was a four-time NAIA national champion at Dickinson State.
But Abbey knows in the event of pole vaulting, nothing is guaranteed.
"You could either come home All-American and beat your sister, or you can come home with a 'no height,' " she said. "It happens, but hopefully it doesn't happen with me."