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Ithaca College's Pitman Breaks DIII National Record Twice

By: Madison Bess and Nick Fustor

Ithaca College senior Katherine Pitman set a Division III record on the pole vault not once, but twice in the span of two weeks. On Feb. 4 at the Bomber Invitational & Multi at the Ithaca College Athletics and Events Center, Pitman set a record mark of 4.22 meters (13 feet, 10 inches), after entering the competition with the highest mark in the nation of 4.15 meters.

One week later on Feb. 11, Pitman broke her record with a mark of 4.25 meters at the Empire 8 Championships at Utica College.

“It [the record] means a lot to me, but it also means a lot to my coaches and the program I represent,” Pitman said. “I don’t see that as my record, I see that as all of our record. It wasn’t just me putting in work, it was just as much my coaches and teammates supporting me. It’s not really mine, it’s something that we all share.”

Pitman’s mark broke the previous top mark in DIII by .01 meters, which was set by Michelle Favre from Ramapo College in 2013.

Pitman set her previous top mark of 4.21 meters in last year’s NCAA Division III Outdoor Championships, which led her to a national title.

For the second time this year, Pitman was named the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) National Field Athlete of the Week on Feb. 7. She previously received the honors on Jan. 17 after tying her school record of 4.15 meters at the Ramapo Invitational on Jan. 13.

“It’s a great thing to feel like your hard work has paid off but you can’t sit on it and you can’t roll around on it,” she said. “Someone else is going to get it next week and you’ve really just got to keep working and hopefully get another one.”

Assistant Pole Vault Coach Matt Scheffler said there are several goals he and Pitman are looking to achieve this season.

“I guess we can say that [as far as goals go] being a National Champion indoor would be number one regardless of the height. Winning that would be a great accomplishment,” Scheffler said.

This is only Pitman’s third season on the track and field team, as she transitioned from competing in gymnastics. Despite her relative inexperience, her teammate, Amanda Zaput, said she plays an integral role as a leader on the team.

“She has a tremendously positive impact on the team, personality wise not just skill wise. She’s open to listen and having that attitude that you might be better than someone,” Zaput, a senior pole vaulter, said.

Pitman said she remains focused on finding ways to improve as the season moves along, and while the Ithaca team looks to position itself for another national title.

“Our motto here is to trust the process, and that’s what I intend on doing. I shouldn’t be peaking right now. I should be getting better every day,” she said.

The Ithaca Track and Field team will travel to Utica on Feb. 18 for the Utica Invitational.

Pitman said she is fortunate to have two seasons and says with both seasons she has opportunities to do different things while competing.

“I don’t have an ultimate goal height. I want to just keep getting better, and work on technique every time I come in. The bar always goes up in pole vault,” she said.

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