Monterola Prepares for Nationals With Chance to Become Eastern’s First Champion

The Venezuelan pole vaulter has eyes set on a NCAA championship and an Olympic experience

Junior Big Sky Conference pole vault champion Keisa (KAY-suh) Monterola is about to hit the biggest stage of her short Eastern Washington University career.

The Venezuelan will be participating in the NCAA Division I Indoor Championships in Boise, Idaho, next Saturday (Mar. 10) at 4 p.m. PST.

Monterola will not only be going for a national championship, but also an Olympic-B qualifying mark (14-5 1/4) which would allow her to represent Venezuela in the 2012 Olympic Games.

“She’s carrying our banner into the national championships,” said men’s head coach Stan Kerr. “She’s not just representing herself or Venezuela, she knows she’s representing Eastern as well. She’s been very gracious about that. And if she’s nervous, she’s not showing it. Keisa knows the competition will be good.”

Monterola is right. The competition is very good. Currently, Monterola sits in a third-place tie in the nation with her Big Sky Conference-breaking jump of 14-4, which she hit at the UW Invitational Jan. 28. Victoria von Eynatten (Virginia Tech) and Tara Diebold (Arkansas) sit tied with Monterola.

Morgann Leleux (Georgia) is second with a height of 14-4 1/2, while Tina Sutej (Arkansas) holds the top spot with 14-11.

“Keisa has a chance to become Eastern’s first national champion,” said Kerr. “It’s positive publicity. We’ve attracted recognition from coaches and athletes. She’s not quite at the same level of magnitude as the red turf was when it was put down, but from an individual standpoint, she can produce that kind of recognition.”

With slightly more than a week to finish preparing for the meet, Monterola isn’t seeing much of a change in her practice regimen.

“For her, it’s maintaining that plateau of training she’s been at all season,” said Kerr. “Keisa has remained undefeated indoors so far, so we don’t want to disrupt the routine. Her consistency in everything has helped out.

“Our goal for Keisa,” added Kerr. “is for her to mentally win the competition an hour before it even starts.”

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