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Gophers Caroline White and Alicia Rue Interviews

Started by Chris, January 23, 2009, 07:29:03 PM

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University of Minnesota pole vaulter Alicia Rue's 2009 season is off to a great start. The junior from Plymouth opened her season two weekends ago with an NCAA provisional qualifying clearance of 13-3 1/2 at the Northwest Open.

Last Saturday, at the Minnesota Open, Rue cleared 14-4 to set a new PR and school record and punch an automatic ticket to the NCAA Indoor Championships in College Station, Texas in March. The photo above, by Chris Milton, shows Rue's 14-4 clearance.

To learn a little more about Rue's success, we talked to her event coach Caroline White.

DtB: Alicia's off to a great start in 2009. Are you surprised or did expect big things early?

White: I am expecting big things of Alicia this year. I don't have specific ideas for when certain heights will happen. I am more focused on the technique changes we need to make. I know when the problems fix, the heights will improve. Each athlete is so unique as far as how quickly they can make changes that it's pretty hard to set a concrete time table. We definitely have a plan, and hierarchy of what needs to change and in which order. Saturday she took the first steps, in competition, to make one of those major technique changes. The change Saturday was slight, and the pay-off was fairly large, so we're both feeling pretty positive about the season ahead.

DtB: To what do you attribute Alicia's recent improvements?

White: Just like any collegiate athlete, she's maturing both as a person and as an athlete. We're now in our 3rd year together so our communication is much more seamless and we're working well as a team. She has also gotten continually stronger since becoming a Gopher and is now as fit as she ever has been. Because of this, she's now able to start to make some of the technical changes that she physically couldn't in the past. Coach Bingle has spent a lot of time with the pole vaulters this year working on their sprinting and approaches and that is beginning to pay off for the entire squad as well.

DtB: For Alicia to go even higher, what are some of the elements that will need to come together for her?

White: I can't imagine that we'll ever stop working on any particular part of the vault, but our main focus right now is the timing and control through the top end of her jump. She tends to hesitate after her rock back just long enough to cause a big loss of energy, and height, in her vault. It's not the only problem, but we feel it's the biggest one that she is capable of fixing in a relatively short period of time. We've still got a long way to go, but 4.37m [14-4] in January suggests to us we're on the right track.

Chris Milton
Eden Prairie HS PV Coach



Minnesota's top pole vaulter just cleared 14 feet, four inches at the Nebraska Holiday Inn Open last Saturday. The Gopher junior bettered her own school record and looks to get her own NCAA Championship this indoor season.

You got 14'4 this early in the season, how high can you go?

I don't know. My goal for the year was to jump 14'6. I'm heading in the right direction. I didn't expect to be jumping this high this early in the year, but I'm really happy with it.

Have you ever jumped in the 14s before?

My best last year was just shy of 14. It was 13'11.75.

That's a big four inches.

Four inches is a big gain. I was really happy with it. I wasn't expecting it at all, but we've been working hard.

Was everything just clicking or is there more there? Can you get 14'6?

I think so. I had a pretty good clearance on the bar. It wasn't like I brushed it and it was going to fall down. So, that makes me feel like there's room for potential. I feel like it being this early in the year, there's room for improvement.

14'6 is one of your goals. What are some other goals? What about you getting a National Championship?

(Laughs) Let's see. I would eventually like to make it to the Trials, but that's four years away. The lifetime goal is to make it to the Trials and see how I do. This year, it would be really sweet to make to the USA's. I don't know what I would need to get there yet, but we'll see what happens as we go.

That brings me to another question. You had the
Chris Milton
Eden Prairie HS PV Coach