Mary Saxer, a professional pole vaulter from Buffalo, New York is chasing her Olympic dream.
Currently ranked as a top 10 female pole vaulter in the world with a personal best vault of 4.70 meters (15' 5"), Mary trains in Boston, Massachusetts at MIT under her personal coach Danny Wilkerson. Sometimes she still returns to her alma mater, the University of Notre Dame, in South Bend, Indiana to train as well. Her goal is to represent the United States at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Mary's road to the Olympics began in her hometown of Lancaster, NY where she attended Lancaster High School.
Mary and her parents
Competing on the indoor and outdoor track and field teams, Mary specialized in sprints and long jump, becoming a 4-time state long jump champion. While attending a long jump camp, Coach Rick Suhr suggested that she try pole vaulting. It quickly became obvious that Mary was a natural. She excelled at the event under Rick and Lancaster head coach Kevin Carriero, clearing 12'5" and placing second at Indoor Nationals during her first year in the event. During her senior year, Mary became the first high school girl to clear 14'. She broke the high school girls' national record 7 times while at Lancaster, broke the National Junior Record (for the 19 years old and under age group), was a three-time National High School Champion in the vault, and still holds the New York state record.
Mary and her husband, Justin
She graduated from high school with a personal best jump of 14'2". There was no doubt that Mary had a future in pole vaulting after high school.
Mary received a full scholarship to attend the University of Notre Dame. There she became the school record holder, a three-time Big East Conference Pole Vault Champion, a two-time NCAA All-American, and placed 3rd at the 2009 NCAA Outdoor National Championships under coach Jim Garnham, a fellow Buffalo native. She graduated from the prestigious university in 2009 with a degree in Marketing.
Mary chose to continue vaulting in pursuit of her Olympic dreams after graduation.
Mary and her brother, Alex
Her first year of post-collegiate competition under Coach Wilkerson demonstrated that her talent would allow her to compete at the highest level of the sport. That year she vaulted a personal best of 4.50 meters (14'9") and placed 3rd at the 2010 Outdoor U.S. National Championships.
Mary burst onto the world scene in 2011, breaking the 15' barrier with a personal best vault at the time of 4.60 meters (15' 1").
She competed in her first Diamond League meet in Shanghai where she placed 3rd. The Diamond League is the most prestigious series of track meets in the world, drawing the world's best talent. Mary followed that performance with a 2nd place finish at the Colorful Daegu Pre-Championships, as well as placing first at both the Harry Jerome Classic in Vancouver, Canada and a top European meet in Luzern, Switzerland. Mary's pole vaulting talents also took her to competitions in Ukraine, China, South Korea, Belgium, Germany and Italy. While stateside, Mary placed 3rd at the Drake Relays and 5th at the Outdoor U.S. National Championships.
The 2013 season proved to be her best yet with a new personal best of 4.70 meters (15'5") and finishing the season ranked top 10 in the world. With a top 10 world ranking, Mary is clearly focused on earning a position on the United States Olympic team, and continues to work to improve on her personal best mark of 4.70 meters. In 2012 she vaulted her personal best at the time of 4.62 meters to place 2nd at Indoor U.S. Nationals and earn herself a spot on the 2012 U.S. Indoor World Championship Team. During her impressive 2013 season she placed 2nd behind the world record holder at the Shanghai Diamond League, finished 3rd at Indoor U.S. Nationals, won the Kansas Relays among a handful of other competitions, and she cleared the World Championship "A" standard of 4.60m (15'1") nine times. To say the least, there is lot more in her future.
As Mary pursues her Olympic dream, she feels truly blessed to have such an amazing support system in her friends and family, especially her parents Ann and Don Saxer and husband Justin Sibears who have been at her side throughout her journey.