Marisa Robbins made her first pole vault jump halfway through her junior year of high school.
“Most girls start at the beginning of freshman year,” she said. “I started late, in about December or January of my junior year, actually our opening meet is going to be the fourth anniversary [of when I started].”
It wasn’t until sometime during her senior year that Robbins even began thinking about going to college for pole vault.
“I had a friend that also did pole vault in high school,” she said, “and they pushed me to be better and kind of drove me and I found that I actually like pole vault. So I started taking it more seriously as I went on.”
Robbins, who defines her self as “new” to pole vault as a result of her late arrival to the sport, still managed to draw recruiter attention and joined the Manhattan College track and field team as a freshman in 2013. Now, as a junior, Robbins holds both the Manhattan and MAAC records for pole vault.
“I won both tournaments — indoor and outdoor — in the MAAC for 2015,” she said, “[At] the indoor MAAC, I don’t know I just took it at my own pace and ended up jumping like 12-feet 6-inches by the end of it. I took the record back from Monmouth who taken it from us last year.”
Robbins said she isn’t stopping there. Her goal this season is to beat the record and precedent she set last year, considering in the outdoor meet, she broke the college’s record coming off of a minor quad strain.
“In the outdoor, I came off an injury,” she said, “and randomly made my personal record and swept the school record. I’m looking to not only place in the ECACs but hopefully win them.”
Robbins referred to the ECAC as a regional meet of the top 48 athletes in each event that occurs in May. She ranked 52nd in the region last year, only narrowly missing the meet.
Robbins said that most of her training goes into increasing her speed, which she works on with assistant coach Joe Ryan.
“Since I’m so short, a lot of my jump has to come from my run,” she said, “because I don’t have the advantage of a takeoff with my height, since I only stand at 5-foot 3-inches.”
Ryan said he has seen major improvements from Robbins every year.
“I coach the sprinters and hurdlers but athletes do cross-over,” he said. “My responsibility is to help her develop her speed capacity.”
Ryan said that the faster Robbins runs into the jump, the higher she will be able to go when she takes flight.
“Last year we really did a lot of work with speed training and she did extraordinarily well,” he said, “She wasn’t that far off of jumping almost 13-feet.”
Ryan said he is continually impressed with Robbins’ progression as both an athlete and a person since coming to Manhattan.
“I think she is reaching the benchmarks of a really, really good Division I pole vaulter needs to reach,” he said. “She’s one of the best in the east at the moment and the best in the conference. She’s highly motivated, and has a great attitude towards practice.”