Mary Saxer - 2005 Nike Indoor & Nike Outdoor Champion

Mary Saxer

Mary Saxer was the first high school vaulter to clear 14 feet surprising many with her meteoric rise to the top within a very short period of time.  She also set an American Junior record and a world leading mark for the under 17 year age group. Mary competed at our 2004 Nike Indoor Nationals where she won the long jump but it was in 2005 that she “emerged.”

We recall the excitement and vibrancy of the moment as she sailed over 4.32 meters (14-02.00 feet) to capture the Nike Indoor Nationals title breaking the national record she set earlier in the competition and the 14-00 mark she set earlier in January of that year.

Mary graduated from Lancaster Central High School in New York as a member of the National Honor Society and moved on to the University of Notre Dame where she continued to compete.  Her performance marks show consistent improvement with her best vault of 4.60 meters set this year in Seattle.

(Photo by PhotoRun)







Raleigh (USA)




New York (USA)




Walnut (USA)




East Lansing (USA)




Fayetteville (USA)




West Lafayette (USA)




Des Moines (USA)




Seattle (USA)


Mary Saxer

NSSF: Who inspired you to run track?

Mary: I had done gymnastics for 9 years and that was my life, but I decided to quit at the end of 7th grade and knew I needed to find something else to fill my time. Ever since I was in elementary school my P.E. teachers had told me I was fast and in gym class some of the boys and I would have races when I was little. As a result, the thought of running popped into my head so I went out for Varsity track as an 8th grader.

NSSF: What was it like being a student athlete and running at your HS?

Mary It was one of the greatest experiences because my teammates were some of my best friends and essentially like family. I got to go to class and practice with them everyday. I loved our high school spirit, especially before a competition because the team would all decide a certain way to dress to show school spirit and the captains would decorate everyone’s lockers. Being an athlete in HS was way more than just playing the sport. It was an experience that I will carry with me for a lifetime. 

NSSF: What was it like being a student athlete and running/vaulting at Notre Dame?

Mary: Being a student athlete at Notre Dame was the best experience of my life. It was difficult balancing school work, practice, and travel for competitions, however the friendships formed with my teammates are ones that will last a lifetime. The amount of time spent with your teammates at practice and traveling for meets makes them family. As tough as being a student athlete was at times, it made the Notre Dame experience that much more amazing. The school treats its athletes very well and having the opportunity to represent your school and play a collegiate sport is such an honor.

NSSF: What is your favorite memory from hs?

Mary: My favorite high school memory as an athlete was at Dartmouth Relays when I became the first high school girl to ever clear 14 feet. My whole team was there to celebrate the moment with me!

NSSF: What is your favorite memory from college?

Mary: My favorite college memory as an athlete was placing 3rd at the 2009 NCAA Championships. I had faced many vaulting struggles throughout my college career, so coming back from those challenges to place 3rd and becoming a two time All-American was such a great accomplishment to end my college career. 

NSSF: What was your most exciting event or race?

Mary: I obviously have to say pole vault is my favorite event because I have had the most success in it. However, I always loved both long jump and relays because they provided an escape from vaulting which was a nice mental break. In high school I loved my relay team because they were my best friends and I loved being a part of a true team. Sometimes it’s nice to really feel a part of a team as a change since pole vault is such an individual sport.

NSSF: What have you been doing since you left ND and how long have you been doing it?

Mary: Upon graduation I decided to continue pole vaulting in pursuit of my Olympic dreams. My senior year of college had been a success and I got much encouragement to continue vaulting post-collegiately. I am beginning my 3rd year as a professional pole vaulter and currently still train at Notre Dame. I finished top 20 in the world last year and feel I’m in a great position entering the Olympic year. My goal is to make the U.S. team for the 2012 London Olympics. 

NSSF: What advice would you give to other student athletes?

Mary: Being a student athlete can be very tough both mentally and physically between balancing school and practice and with all the ups and downs of any sport. I would say to keep your head up and keep pushing through the tough times because the good times make it all worth it. Those teammates by your side everyday at practice will be there through all the ups and downs, get to know you better than anyone, and become your second family. Soak up everyday as much as possible, because college flies by and when you look back it will be the best memories of your life. 

NSSF: What do you miss most about track?

Mary: It’s hard to miss track when I’m around it all the time still. I do miss my teammates though especially since I train alone for the most part now. 

NSSF. How is your professional life going?

Mary: My life as a professional pole vaulter is going well. I placed 3rd at the 2010 U.S. National Championships, finished top 20 in the world this past year, and competed in competitions all around the world. I feel I am in a good position as I enter the Olympic year. If all goes as planned I will represent the U.S. in the 2012 London Olympics.

NSSF: Final thoughts?

I wouldn’t be where I am today without the amazing support of my friends, boyfriend, and family especially my parents Ann and Don Saxer. 

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