EUGENE, Ore — As the NCAA Track and Field Championships take place this week in Eugene, Oregon, three Razorback women’s pole vaulters are continuing the Arkansas legacy in the sport.
“PVU. Pole vault university,” said junior Bailee McCorkle.
Bailee McCorkle, Mackenzie Hayward and Amanda Fassold give Arkansas three women’s pole vaulters at NCAA’s for the third straight season, in an event that’s produced eight Razorback national champions.
“I definitely think that it’s (Coach Bryan) Compton’s coaching as well as the competitive environment that we have at Arkansas,” Hayward said. “Not only are we constantly pushing each other to be better, we’re also encouraging one another, which is huge.”
“And a lot of schools that don’t have pole vault squads like ours don’t get to experience that," Hayward said.
For Hayward, she has gotten to experience NCAA’s before, and the sophomore is looking to build off last year’s performance.
“My expectations are to be first-team All-American,” Hayward said. “I was second team last year, so really just improving a year at a time… this year, I’m really just trying to have fun with it.”
McCorkle was also at last year’s NCAA’s and is looking to be a first-team All-American as well. As a Greenwood alum, competing at this level for Arkansas is a dream come true.
“Growing up I wanted to be a Gymback,” McCorkle said. “It’s just funny that the tables turned and I’m still here but I’m pole vaulting, so it’s honestly a blessing, and it means a lot to me everyday to wear that Hog.”
For Amanda Fassold, it’s only her first year wearing that Hog after transferring from Division II Azusa Pacific, but it’s been a successful one.
The Hillsboro, Oregon native won the SEC title last month, and is ready to compete for a national title back in her home state.
“At regionals, it’s a very high stress meet, and that was my first regionals too, ever,” Fassold said. “It was just crazy feeling the stress of all the competitors too and also having that extra chip on my shoulder, like, ‘you have to do this, you have to go back home.’ So, I’m just happy we were all able to do it.”
And the trio are hoping to put their best foot forward for the supportive Hog fanbase back home.
“Usually track and field isn’t at the top of the list, so it’s just felt amazing to be part of a program that’s really well supported, so thank you guys and we hope that we can show out for y’all.”
The women's pole vault final begins Thursday at 8 pm central.