Pole vault is among the most demanding events in track and field.
Making it even more difficult is that putting in quality practice time is challenging. Suitable sites for training aren’t easy to find.
Vermilion senior Macy Urig understands the commitment. The Division II All-Ohio selection has averaged 4,300 miles driving each year since the eighth grade, as she commutes to indoor facilities at Altitude Headquarters in Bellevue and Tiffin University.
Urig was introduced to the sport in the seventh grade, dragged to a local clinic by older sister Maddy, a 2017 Vermilion graduate. She really caught the bug the following year, reaching her goal of tying the high school record of 7 feet, 6 inches.
“Kind of had that driving force that I really wanted to learn how to do this correct and get better,” Urig said.
She was on her way.
She improved to 9-6 as a freshman, 10-0 as a sophomore and 11-4 last year, setting the mark to take sixth at the state meet.
“My sister’s best mark was 8-foot,” Urig said. “She jokes about it. She says, ‘I might not have been that good but I sure did get her into the sport.’”
Urig trains on the road an average of twice a week year-round, while juggling varsity soccer in the fall for the last four years, varsity bowling the past two and basketball as a freshman.
Her best mark indoors is 11-6, set at Oberlin College in late February. She cleared 11-0 in placing 10th at the Division II-III state meet March 2 at Spire Institute in Geneva.
“I wasn’t very impressed with my jumping abilities at state indoors,” she said. “The way they run the meet with 24 girls it’s really hard to jump well because you’re so tired. I was actually just in line, waiting and warming up. It’s hard to get on pace. If you don’t make it (a given height) on your first jump, it’s really hard to get it that second jump because you have to re-warm up. It’s difficult.”
Regardless, Urig loves the sport and plans to continue in college. Cincinnati, Marshall and Oakland are on her short list. She plans to major in biology and chemistry for an undergrad degree and would like to go to medical school. She has been taking college prep classes at BGSU’s Firelands campus and Lorain County Community College.
She also competes in long jump and either the 4x400 or the 4x200.
“She’s a ball of energy,” Vermilion coach Kristy Edmison said. “She’s a down-to-earth, sweet, sweet kid. It’s been a fun road. When she was in seventh grade we put out a news message at the school for anyone that wanted to try pole vault that we would take them to a clinic at Beamer’s. Macy and her sister went and Macy just fell in love with it.
“I actually have some video from her seventh grade. She was just all arms and legs at the time as you know seventh-graders can be. To see her then and how she has developed is amazing. She has put in so much extra time other than just what (Vermilion assistant Tim) Volzer does with her. With pole vault you have to. That’s the other thing that she understood, that it was an event that was progression over time and she was patient with it.”
Urig placed second last year at the Oak Harbor district at 10-6, behind Macie Majoy of Huron who cleared a meet-record 12-7. Urig was third at the Lexington regional at 11-0, placing behind Majoy’s meet-record 12-5 and Orrville’s Alex Eby (11-8).
“I noticed that I do better in pole vault when I don’t worry about the height so much,” Urig said. “I just want to get key components on my vault better, like getting better form and keeping a consistent run. Eventually I know that when you do that all right hopefully you’ll get some height, too.”
She placed third as a sophomore at the Oak Harbor district at 10-0 and 10th at the Lexington regional at 9-6. She just missed regionals as a freshman, with a 9-0 at districts.
“This year I’m hoping for big things,” she said. “I’ve been training very hard since the end of last year, to be honest. I never took a break. We vaulted every Wednesday and Sunday throughout the entire summer at Altitude Headquarters. Shane Beamer (owner of Altitude Headquarters) coached Katie Nageotte, who is amazing.
“Altitude Headquarters has helped me a lot. Beamer has some really great drills along with great coaching. Frequently I’ll bring some young vaulters from eighth grade with me from Vermilion to Beamer’s. Helping someone else by teaching them the sport helps me so much because I have to really think what am I doing when I’m vaulting, when I’m stepping, when I’m inverting. It really helps you to make that connection that you might not have seen before.”
Reaching new heights is the goal, but Urig tries to stay grounded.
“I haven’t gone for much height this entire indoor season because coming through and doing drills correctly and adding speed to it after you understand what you’re doing is really the key to master what you’re doing,” she said. “Last week (at practice) is where everything finally seemed to click back into place. To get back into everything is so difficult. To even take two weeks off is like a year practically.
“This season hopefully I can make some more breakthroughs. It would be really nice to get 12-0 or 12-6.”
Urig was third at the Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division meet last year at 11-0, behind Margaretta’s Kassidie Kimmel (12-0) and Majoy (12-0, more misses). Urig also did well in the SBC long jump, adding another third place with a mark of 15-6.5.
“A lot of people want that instant gratification. With pole vault, that’s a rarity,” Edmison said. “It’s something you have to work at for years before you really fine-tune and become a great pole vaulter. She understood that and she was patient. She loved it and kept working at it.”