Landry shines at Del Oro

PVL Pipeline
By: Dave Krizman, Journal Sports Columnist
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Mackenzi Landry is not your average teenager. She enjoys spending time with family. “I like to hang out with my friends and family,” she said. “I have a huge family and we’re extremely close.” The shopping malls do not hold much appeal. “I’m not a big fan of shopping,” Landry said. While many teenage girls are constantly dieting, Landry’s “favorite food is probably anything with meat,” she said. “I love steak.” But, what makes Landry most unique is that she is the finest prep female pole vaulter in the state. Landry is a junior at Del Oro High and has dominated the sport since she exploded on the scene as a freshman. Beginning the sport just three months before the start of her freshman track season, Landry has — pardon the pun — skyrocketed past her competition. As a sophomore, she was the No. 1 vaulter in the state with a vault height of 13 feet, 1 inch. What makes a teenage girl decide to enter the intimidating, frightening and challenging sport of pole vaulting? It’s not as though one wakes up one morning and says, “Hey, mom and dad, I think I want to be a pole vaulter!” According to Landry, “I decided to start pole vaulting because I was a gymnast my entire life and loved the feeling of flying through the air upside down. Also, my brother was a huge reason for me to begin vaulting. It just looked really fun.” Her brother, Connor, is the top jumper at Cal. His best jump is 17 feet, 5 inches. While at Placer High, Connor dominated the pole vault just as his younger sister is currently doing. According to Landry, there are three reasons for her remarkable success. First, she is supremely confident. Secondly, she practices religiously. Thirdly, she has no fear. “There is no room for fear,” she said. “When I stand at the back of the runway about to jump, I have to have confidence,” Landry added. “Even if I’m not feeling the best that day, I tell myself that I am the best … this is what I’m meant to do … no fear … no second thoughts.” As she makes her pole plant, the only thoughts rushing through her head are thoughts of, “practice, practice, practice … the stuff your coach pounds into your head … like get your arms up tall and swing your trail leg through.” Landry has had two coaches outside of school. The uniqueness of the sport makes it difficult for high schools to have well-qualified vault coaches. Landry’s first coach was Curt Roth, and her current coach is Tracy O’Hara, a three-time NCAA champion from UCLA. As expected, her success has colleges actively recruiting her. UCLA, Cal, Oregon, and LSU top her list right now. As the track season continues, more and more schools will be pursuing Landry. A solid ‘B’ student in the classroom at Del Oro, Landry would “rather be in a P.E. class all day if it was my choice!!” Not that there’s anything wrong with math or English, but it just can’t beat the thrill of flying through the air upside down.