Alumni Spotlight: Katie Nageotte shines at USATF National Championships


AU Athletics

AU head track and field coach Jud Logan (left) poses with Nageotte (right) as USATF Outdoor Track and Field National Championships in Des Moines, Iowa on July 28.


28 year-old Katie Nageotte, a former Eagle, has been making waves in the track and field world as she has consistently been climbing the ranks towards being the world’s best female pole vaulter.

Nageotte was born in Lakewood, Ohio and raised in Olmsted Falls where she graduated high school in the class of 2009. After two years at the University of Dayton, she transferred to Ashland University, where she graduated in 2013.

She then trained in Knoxville, Tennessee before moving to Washington State in 2017 to train with pole-vault sage Brad Walker, who was the American record holder in 2007 and world champion in the event.

During her two years at AU, Nageotte won two NCAA Division II national championships in the pole vault in 2013 – one indoors and one outdoors, and was a three-time All-American under the coaching of then-Eagle assistant coach Denny Steele.

In a 2018 interview with Dennis Manoloff of Cleveland-based “The Plain Dealer,” Nageotte was quoted with saying, “I struggled at Dayton, so it ended up being a blessing in disguise that I went to Ashland. I got to work with great coaches such as Denny Steele. It was the best thing for my career. I’m not sure that, if I hadn’t transferred, I would be at this level.”

“It’s no wonder she got so good when she was being coached by Denny,” said AU sophomore pole vaulter Adam Keller. “He really focuses on each vaulter individually and makes sure everyone has something particular to work on and improve. It’s a lot easier to get better as an athlete when you are forced to focus on one mechanic at a time.”

Most recently, Nageotte competed at the 2019 USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships on July 28 in Des Moines, Iowa. Nageotte was accompanied by four other current and former AU track and field athletes in junior-to-be Trevor Bassitt (men’s 110-meter hurdles and men’s 400-meter hurdles), Myles Pringle (men’s 400-meter dash), Jordan Crayon and Danny Roberts (men’s hammer throw).

Katie Nageotte pole vaulting at the 2018 USATF Indoor National Championships.

“Katie Nageotte was really the main attraction,” said AU head track and field coach Jud Logan. “She’s really been going crazy lately and is one of the best in the world in her event. It’s always cool to see a former Eagle achieve something so great and to see her progress since graduation.”

Nageotte entered outdoor nationals with a jump of 4.82 meters or 15’8”, being tied for the third best pole vaulter in the world at the time.

In the 2018 season, however, she made a personal best of 4.91 or 16’1.25” at the 2018 USATF Indoor Championships in Albuquerque, New Mexico. 16’1.25” was her final personal best after delivering two personal bests in a row in the pole vault. Her winning height of 16’1.25” was a whole 7.25” higher than her former height.

“She’s really kind of an inspiration to me,” said Keller. “To see someone from a small private D-II college who has become one of the best athletes in the world in their event is pretty awesome.”

Since graduating, Nageotte has improved her vault from 4.33 meters to 4.91 meters, or an improvement of 1’10.8” over the course of six years.

In her 2018 Indoor Championship performance Nageotte upset both of her American teammates who had previously outclassed her, Jenn Suhr and Sandi Morris.
Suhr’s resume includes Olympic silver (2008) and Olympic gold (2012), world indoor champion (2016), world silver (2013), and world indoor record holder (16’6”). Suhr owns 15 national titles (six indoors, nine outdoors).
Morris owns an Olympic silver (2016), world outdoor silver (2016) and world indoor silver (2017).
Nageotte, Morris and Suhr will all be competing at the 2019 IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar from Sept. 7- Oct. 6.

Ian Stephen @trackfieldwild
Katie Nageotte pole vaulting at the 2019 Muller Grand Prix in Birmingham, Great Britain.

When not vaulting, Nageotte writes in her personal blog. Although fairly new (initial post made Apr. 24, 2019), the blog’s four posts offer up criticism of what she calls “social media coaches,” solutions to variables pole vaulters face, promotion and explanation of the sport of pole vault, and even how to negate anxiety and stress.

According to Nageotte, “Surrounding yourself with good people who appreciate you for who you are, not what you do or look like” is a key step to maintaining positivity.

“There will always be people who are not a fan of yours, talk badly about you, and that’s okay. That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you, some people just don’t mix. Instead of wasting your time wondering, why not use that energy towards appreciating the ones that do.”