Kristen Denk is having herself a season. The All American has already broken the school record Indoor and finished 12th at NCAA’s. This past weekend at the Tennessee Relays, she vaulted 4.35m (14’ 3.25”) breaking her own school record from last season (Full results here).
Upon clearing the bar, Denk’s first thought was, “ this is going to be a big season! I expected myself to clear that bar (4.35) but it was still greatly exciting, I literally screamed ... or should i say shrieked ... on the way down. I was overwhelmed with excitement!”
Denk, the top vaulter for the Commodores, is a RS Junior on the track. She started her career in Knoxville but transferred to Vanderbilt after her freshman season. She said of competing at UT, “I was very excited to compete back in Knoxville. Out of all the preseason meets we go to in outdoor season, The Tennessee Relays is my favorite. You can always rely on great competition and a great tailwind (wind pushing you from the back).”
The last three years, she has steadily progressed under Asst Head Coach Clark Humphreys, and now is the best vaulter in the conference besides the Arkansas robo-twins.
Humphreys, a former NCAA Champion PV-er, has developed a boutique TF squad. While Head Coach Steve Keith coaches distance, Humphreys has focused on field events where individuals can excel, like TJ, PV, and HJ. Humphreys has had at least one All American athlete in each of those events in the last five years, including former PV school record hold Sara Bell and SEC Legend Simone Charlie.
Denk’s performance in Knoxville this past weekend portends for a successful post season. She achieved third at Indoor SEC’s but fell short of her own expectations at NCAA. Must be nice being underwhelmed with an All American performance, right?
When asked how she’s feeling for the post season, she replied, “Feeling for the rest of the season: Confidence! I’ve struggle throughout my entire college career to gain the confidence back I had in HS and I’m finally getting it back. I recently moved from 13’7” poles to 14’ poles which I think will be a game changer for this season.”
That’s the kind of attitude you have to have to perform at that level.