Vaulting ambition won’t o’erleap friendship

SCHENECTADY –– The pole-vaulting competition isn’t usually the center of attention during a track and field meet, so athletes may get a little lonely between turns.

But, for seniors Kendra Lizzote and Jaclyn Levy, her best friend will always be by her side.

Or, flying high through the air over a bar.

On Tuesday, the two Guilderland teammates went back-to-back, trying to clear 10 feet, 6 inches at the Schenectady Invitational. Lizzote and Levy were the only competitors remaining, but they couldn’t raise the bar any higher.

Lizzote won the event by clearing 10 feet in two attempts to Levy’s three. Most high schools are lucky to have one talented pole-vaulter, but Guilderland has two.

“We’re best friends!” exclaimed Lizzote, running up to Levy. “We just have fun with it, especially when it’s just us two left.”

Lizzote’s personal record is 11 feet, 6 inches; and Levy matched her individual best with 10 feet on Monday. Lizzote will compete at the University of North Carolina Charlotte next fall.

“We’ve been best friends for a long time,” Levy said. “Kendra started this a year before me, and then told me I should try it because she thought I’d be good at it.”

Levy and Lizzote were colleagues on the Guilderland gymnastics team for a while, but then Lizzote left gymnastics to pursue pole-vaulting during the winter indoor track season. Levy remained on the gymnastics team, competing at the state level as one of the best gymnasts in Section 2.

“A lot of gymnasts end up being really good pole-vaulters,” said Lizzote. “I told Jaclyn how much I loved pole-vaulting, and how much fun it was, and she agreed to try it, so here we are.”

Lizzote said that Levy could clear 10 feet, 6 inches if she had a bigger pole. The longer the pole, the better chance of more bend, and more bend equals more spring off each attempt. However, getting the correct bend isn’t easy.

“I think they push each other,” said Dutch Coach Pete Cure, who was taking video of each vault with an iPad. He was looking for take-off point, arm extension, drive, and speed of every attempt.

“You know what,” he said, “the weather has been terrible for pole-vaulting this year. We’re starting to get some nice weather, so this is the first nice day to vault.”

Levy and Lizzote encourage each other.

“Yeah, we cheer each other on,” Levy said. “It’s not like some big competition to see who is the best.”

What do Lizzote and Levy think about flying through the air? Both girls started to laugh.

“It’s so fast,” Lizzote said. “You don’t think about anything.”

“Just don’t hit the bar,” shouted Levy.


Here are the results from Tuesday’s Schenectady Invitational for both Guilderland and Berne-Knox-Westerlo:

  • Emily Burns, Guilderland, first place, 1,500-meter run, 4:50.33;
  • Abigail Marco, Guilderland, second place, 400-meter hurdles, 1:07.17;
  • Marco, Guilderland, third place, 100-meter hurdles, 16.69;
  • Michelle Fish, Guilderland, fourth place, 800-meter run, 2:24.40;
  • Sarah Abbott; BKW; fourth place; pole vault; 8 feet, 6 inches;
  • Lian Larson; Guilderland; fifth place; triple jump; 31 feet, 10 inches;
  • Hanna Laestander; Guilderland; sixth place; high jump; 4 feet, 8 inches;
  • Kendra Lizzote; Guilderland; seventh place; high jump; 4 feet, 6 inches;
  • Morgan Viscio; BKW; eighth place; high jump; 4 feet, 6 inches;
  • Dayle Carhart, Guilderland, sixth place, discus throw, 84 feet;
  • Hayley Mattice; Guilderland; seventh place; discus throw; 83 feet, 9 inches; and
  • Allie Tedeschi, BKW, 18th place, 1,500-meter run, 5:23.12.