On Friday, fourth-year track and field athlete Jaclyn Masters not only captured first place in the pole vault at the America East Championships, she also set a new conference record with a vault of 12 feet 9.5 inches.
It’s only fitting that this milestone came exactly five years to the day of when she broke her femur during a pole vault drill her junior year of high school. Masters was practicing in her high school gym when she vaulted and missed the mat, landing on the hardwood floor and splitting the bone up the middle in the process.
The injury happened just two days before her state meet and after she had already qualified for Nationals, causing her to miss the rest of her indoor season and the entire outdoor season of an important recruiting year. Masters didn’t let it get her down, however, and she applied the same discipline to recovery that she does to her workouts on the track.
“I did a lot of physical therapy, and by that summer I was playing soccer and came back and was right where I had left off,” Masters said.
Masters has come a long way throughout her tenure as a Black Bear. Since coming to the University of Maine, she has improved her personal best in the pole vault by a full two feet, an almost unfathomable amount in an event where mere inches make a difference.
Masters credits the diverse number of coaches and practice techniques she’s experienced with helping her improve.
“I’ve worked with multiple coaches throughout my vault career now and every coach I’ve had has given me something to build off,” Masters said. “I have more confidence in myself now and I’m more relaxed when I compete.”
Part of that comfort in competing comes with Master’s ability to look past the injury that cost her a season five years ago and clear it from her mind when she’s on the runway.
“I don’t think about it anymore, sometimes I’ll get a little pain after I vault but thankfully it’s all healed,” she said. “You can’t think about things like that because it’ll kind of freak you out.”
Masters’ new conference record is just another milestone to add to her list of accomplishments in her illustrious career at Maine. Masters has collected two America East conference titles, broken and reset her own school record five times and garnered six Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) appearances.
Masters’ proudest moment, however, came earlier this year when she set a new school record and vaulted over 13 feet, a goal she’s had since her first year competing at UMaine.
“Not everyone always accomplishes their goals that they set and that one for me was a high goal, especially since I only came into college vaulting 11 feet,” Masters said. “I can’t stop here, now I have to go back and set a new goal.”
That new goal for Masters is an appearance in the NCAA East Regional this outdoor season. The NCAA East Regional is a meet where the top 48 performers in each event from the eastern half of the United States compete for a spot in the NCAA Championship.
Masters narrowly missed making it to the regional last year, and with how she’s been vaulting lately, it’s a goal that Assistant Coach Chris Flynn thinks is very realistic.
“With the way she’s been competing indoors I think she’s definitely on track to qualify [for Regionals],” Flynn said. “She deserves it.”
Masters has had a strong season on the track in addition to her success in pole vault. She’s recorded top 10 all-time marks at the University of Maine in the 60 and 200-meter dashes, with a ninth place finish in the 200-meter dash at the America East Championships. She credits the changes in practices to her improvement in the running events.
“I think it’s the training in general. The sprint workouts have definitely benefited me on the runway as well,” Masters said. “The fact that I’m lifting multiple times a week helps, too.”
Masters will finish up her final indoor season with the New England and ECAC Championships before she begins her quest in the outdoor season to qualify for the NCAA East Regional.