Jenna Frantz is having quite the summer so far.
The Versailles native recently completed her freshman year as a member of the University of Akron track and field team by placing ninth in the women’s pole vault with a jump of 12 feet, 9.5 inches at the USA Track and Field Junior Outdoor Championships. The event was hosted by Indiana University at Hayes Track at the Haugh Complex in Bloomington, Ind.
Just a few short days later, Frantz was jetting off to Valladolid, Spain, for a six-week study abroad class. She plans to minor in Spanish alongside her major of biology for pre-med.
“This is so exciting,” Frantz said from the airport in Chicago.
She also called the USATF Junior Outdoor Championships a “great experience.”
“It was a super fun meet,” Frantz said. “All the girls were really nice. I didn’t even know the meet existed until a few months ago, so it was truly a great experience.
“I didn’t jump as high as I wanted to, but it was all about just being there and having fun for me so I wasn’t worried,” she continued. “My goal going in was just to have fun because I knew even if I qualified for worlds I couldn’t go because of the study abroad class.”
Frantz opened the competition by bettering the initial bar of 12-3.5. She followed that by clearing the next height of 12-9.5 on her second attempt. She then made three runs at the 13-1.5 bar, but was unable to clear any of them.
Frantz’s efforts capped a stellar rookie campaign for the Zips, one in which she placed second in the women’s pole vault at the Mid-American Conference Indoor Championships and finished fourth at the outdoor meet.
An NCAA East Preliminary Round qualifier, Frantz registered a career-best outdoor clearance of 13-11.25 at the Texas Relays on March 30. She went on to place fourth at the MAC Outdoor Championships with a mark of 13-6.25.
Frantz was named the MAC’s Freshman Field Performer of the Meet at the league’s indoor championships on Feb. 24 after eclipsing 13-5 en route to earning second-team All-MAC accolades with a runner-up finish. She previously established a career-best indoor mark of 13-8.50 at the Kent State Qualifier on Feb. 10.
Frantz said she made a change to her approach to meets. She now focuses more on the enjoyment of the competition rather than how high she can jump.
“In high school I got too focused on always jumping as high as I could,” Frantz said. “But by making that change I improved by 15 inches this season so it really paid off.
“I improved more than I expected to so that really confirmed it was the right choice for me,” she continued. “It was a phenomenal rookie season.”
The most exciting part of her freshman year was all the traveling, she said about going to places like California, Texas, Florida and Louisiana just to name a few.
“I really enjoyed the Texas Relays because that is where I set my biggest PR (13-11.25),” Frantz said.
While this may have been her freshman year at Akron as an athlete, Frantz said she will finish her athletic career as a sophomore due to the fact when she graduated from high school she already had two years worth of college credit.
Frantz did come home to train for the USATF Junior Outdoor Championships and worked with her high school coach Adam Swartz.
“He knows so much about pole vaulting,” said Frantz, who in her senior year of high school won the Division II state pole vaulting championship. She also placed third in the state in the long jump and was part of the sixth-place 400-meter relay team. “He always pushed me to keep it fun. It is such a blessing to have him as my coach.”
The Daily Advocate sports editor Skip Weaver can be reached at (937) 569-4316 or by email at email@example.com