Keep the streak alive -- that's the goal of Cal State Stanislaus pole vaulters Kirsten Loftin and Rosemary Feikert.
They hope to extend the Warriors' run of All-American heights today in the NCAA Division II Track and Field National Championships in Walnut. The streak began in 2003 courtesy of two-time national champion Chaunte Mitchell.
"You don't see many places that have that kind of success," Loftin said. "It's something to be proud of. I'm looking forward to carrying on the tradition."
Loftin earned All-American status last year, finishing seventh with a height of 12 feet, 1½ inches. The senior enters the meet ranked seventh at 12-7½. The top eight placers earn All-American status.
Loftin doesn't feel the Warriors' temporary lack of an on-campus track facility is any reason to let the program's string of award-winners end. While a new recreation center and track facility is built, the track and field athletes trekked to Modesto Junior College or neighboring Pitman High in Turlock.
Loftin said the traveling reminded her high school -- before resources were available her senior year at Aptos High, she went off-campus to train.
"Everyone did a good job adapting to the situation," Loftin said. "You just have to look at the circumstances and go with the flow. We're grateful MJC and Pitman offered their facilities to us."
While a number of Stanislaus athletes achieved provisional qualifying marks, only Loftin and Feikert qualified for nationals.
Pole vault coach Tom Brenda said staggered practice times detracted from the team's sense of unity, but a caravan of Warrior teammates are planning to be at Walnut's Mt. San Antonio College to support the women.
Brenda expects Mitchell's Division II nationals record of 13-1¾ to fall this weekend. Top-ranked Kaitlin Rains of Minnesota State-Mankato enters with a height of 13-11¼. He said Loftin is peaking now.
"She's very consistent," Brenda said. "She always comes prepared. I think she can definitely jump a a career best. She's barely missed a couple attempts at 13 feet."
Feikert is happy to be back at nationals after being sidelined the last eight weeks with a stress fracture and ligament tear in her right foot. She suffered the injury during a landing at the Cal-Nevada Championships in Fresno on March 29.
"My goal was 13 feet and I was just ready to peak," Feikert said. "I had to drop out. I couldn't even walk on it."
Her top mark of 12-3½ from the first day of the Cal-Nevada meet held up as a nationals qualifying mark. She practiced for the first time last week, looking better than Brenda expected, and is feeling strong.
Feikert, a junior from Concord, finished 10th last year. She is optimistic she can clear the first two heights. The women will open at 11-9.
"I'm as ready as I can be," Feikert said. "Coach (Geoff) Bradshaw said sometimes a break is good and can make athletes stronger. I hope so."