By Kyle Shaner
VERSAILLES – Versailles’ Jenna Frantz, a state champion pole vaulter, committed to the University of Akron track and field team on Thursday.
Frantz, the daughter of Don and Sonya Frantz, said committing to Akron and becoming a NCAA Division I athlete fulfilled a dream she’s had for years.
“It’s been a dream of mine ever since I was a little girl,” she said. “I always wanted to be a Division I college athlete. I always thought that it would be for gymnastics, but as my path in life continued I realized that I was a better pole vaulter and I preferred pole vaulting so I’m super excited to continue my pole vault career at the Division I NCAA collegiate level.”
Frantz qualified for the Ohio High School Athletic Association state track and field meet all four years of her high school career including three times in the pole vault. As a senior she won the Division II girls pole vault state championship by clearing 12 feet 9 inches.
“Jenna is a very gifted athlete,” Versailles pole vault coach Adam Schwartz said. “She’s fast, she’s strong, great body control, a lot of stuff that you need in a pole vaulter she is that. But there will be other girls who are as fast and as strong and they won’t be able to jump as high as Jenna because of just how she approaches everything and her thought process. Really just how she can focus and manage to do things on a pole at certain times that not everybody has the ability to do.”
Her vault of 12 feet 9 inches at this year’s state meet was a personal best and earned an athletic scholarship to Akron. She will have opportunities to earn more scholarship money in athletics during her college career, she said, to go along with the academic scholarships she already has received.
“I think her future is bright there,” Versailles track and field coach Mike Goubeaux said. “She’s got a great university. Akron is a very respectable university, and it’s got a great program.”
In Akron Frantz is joining a track and field program that helped turn Tri-Village alumnus Clayton Murphy into a bronze medalist in the 800 meter run at the 2016 Olympics. The Zips also had Shawn Barber of Canada and Annika Roloff of Germany compete at the 2016 Olympics in the pole vault.
The strength of the pole vaulting program at Akron is a big reason why Frantz chose that university.
“Their very strong pole vault is arguably one of the best in the nation so it was very attractive to me,” she said. “I also just felt like I really fit in with everyone there. It was the one visit that I went on where I just felt like I connected with the teammates there, and it just seemed like the right size for me with about 20,000 students. Everything just felt right.”
Akron started recruiting Frantz two years ago, and the recruitment intensified during her senior season. She grew to love the university on visits – the first of which came years ago.
“My first ever visit to Akron was when I was in about fourth grade when I went with my sister (Nicole), and whenever I was in fourth grade I loved it, and I was like, ‘Oh, I’m going to go to Akron someday.’ So it’s really funny that that’s actually where I ended up going,” the 2017 Versailles graduate said.
In addition to the pole vault, Frantz also might compete in the long jump during college. She jumped over 18 feet during this year’s OHSAA regional and state meets, which made competing in college in that event a possibility. Her first focus will remain pole vault, in which she hopes to increase her personal-best mark to 13 feet 6 inches.
But Frantz’ top goal is to excel in the classroom.
“A big priority for me is keeping a high GPA since I plan to attend medical school,” said Frantz, who was one of the valedictorians for Versailles’ class of 2017.
In college Frantz plans to major in biology with a pre-medical focus.
Goubeaux is confident that Frantz will excel academically and athletically just like she did for Versailles.
“It’s all the offseason things that she does, is what got her to where she is,” Goubeaux said. “That’s a testament to her work ethic and her dedication and to Coach Schwartz.”