The early part of the Yale women’s indoor track season has been characterized by change — who runs, what events they run, strategy, level of competition and type of meet. But through the first three meets of the season, one thing has remained constant: Molly Lederman ’06 and Ashley Nolet ’07 have taken first and second places, respectively, in the women’s pole vault in each meet, consistently contributing a substantial number of points for the team.
While the team scores are not emphasized in many of the early meets, the points Lederman and Nolet will score at the Heptagonal Championship, scheduled to be held Feb. 28-29, will likely play an important if not decisive role in determining the Ivy League champion.
Lederman’s personal record is 13 feet 1 inches and Nolet’s is 12 feet 7.5 inches, marks which would have taken first and third places at last year’s indoor Heps.
The two Eli vaulters will take an important step toward helping the Bulldogs to victory at this year’s Heps when they compete tomorrow in the Husky Invitational in Boston along with many of their teammates, honing their skills in preparation for the indoor league championship and the outdoor season.
The ability to practice and gain experience in a meet environment will help Lederman and Nolet perform at the highest level at Heps by giving them something Yale hurdles and jumping coach David Shoehalter believes is one of the keys to pole vaulting.
“A lot of it is repetition,” Shoehalter said
Lederman and Nolet are no strangers to repetition. Lederman started pole vaulting the summer before she entered seventh grade, and Nolet picked it up as a freshman in high school.
“The [high school] head coach said we needed points and made me do it,” Nolet said.
According to Nolet, neither she nor her high school head coach really knew what to do to train her for the event and she says she basically just ran down the runway a couple of times as practice.
After two years though, Nolet finally got a pole vault coach and joined a Boston track club, of which Lederman was at the time already a member.
“I had Molly [Lederman] as my role model,” Nolet said.
Practicing twice a week with a pole vault coach in addition to training with her high school team helped propel Nolet to new heights.
“There aren’t that many people who know what they’re talking about,” Lederman said. “Especially for girls since it’s so new for us.”
Lederman is a copy staffer for the Yale Daily News.
Women’s pole vault did not become part of the Olympics until the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
In practices, Lederman and Nolet exhibit much of the dedication and athleticism required to succeed in the pole vault. While distance runners do a workout on the track in Coxe Cage, the pole vaulters warm up in the infield for 20 minutes before even touching a pole, performing a variety of drills and stretching including some painful-looking head stands. Then the vaulters make short runs towards the pit, sometimes using the pole as a lever and sometimes just running and turning flips in the air.
While the atmosphere off the runway is relaxed and filled with smiles and chatter, once Nolet or Lederman steps onto the runway, chalk on hands and pole pointing towards the pit, their focus shifts exclusively toward vaulting.
Nolet steps back, forward, then back again before taking about five bounding steps forward and smoothly shifting into a run. She plants the pole in the box, and jumps off her left foot. She pauses slightly as the pole bends then accelerates upward, turning around to face where she came from before tumbling onto the mat.
During one particular practice, Shoehalter and Lederman worked on taking off farther from the pit.
“With these two, a lot of it is where you take off,” Shoehalter said. “Generally the farther out you are, the better.”
Lederman and Nolet only vault twice a week, spending the rest of the time conditioning, lifting, or in the pool. Both vaulters have had gymnastics experience before they picked up their poles.
“That’s how I can vault the way I vault,” Nolet said. “It’s how I have the body awareness.”