When Rachel B. Fisher (’13) reached 5 foot 8 her junior year of high school in Texas, she had outgrown gymnastics, the sport she had competed in for 14 years. But it took her only a few weeks to grow into a new sport where height is an advantage: pole vaulting.
Two years after picking up a pole, Fisher, a BYU freshman, flew over the BYU women’s all-time pole-vaulting record at the Mountain West Conference Indoor Championships in February, taking second place with a height of 13 feet 11.25 inches.
“For a freshman to surpass that mark was surprising but not unexpected,” says head women’s track coach R. Craig Poole. “Rachel showed great ability out of high school and has all the physical and mental skills to be one of our nation’s best.”
Fisher aims to be just that. “From the first practice, I fell in love with the sport,” she says. A few weeks after beginning training, she broke the district record with an 11-foot-6 vault. A few weeks later, she broke the school record with a 12-foot vault. Six more inches won her first place at the 2008 AAU Junior Olympic Games just six months after she started. Her senior year, Fisher won first at all 17 meets she entered and was ranked no. 1 nationally for girls’ high school pole vault when she reached 13 feet 3 inches.
Fisher attributes much of her success as a pole vaulter to years of gymnastics training by Olympic coaches Yevgeny Marchenko and Laurie Dix. By 15 she had earned 85 gymnastics medals and was attracting interest from top NCAA gymnastics teams during her junior year. “Gymnastics gave me good body movement awareness and all-around muscle strength,” Fisher says.
Hopefully, that Olympic training, even if for gymnastics, will pay off. “Ultimately, I hope to qualify for the Olympics,” Fisher says. “There are a lot of great vaulters in the nation right now, so it will be a challenge, but I’m up for it.”