Appoquinimink senior Mike Jensen has excelled nearly his entire career at track and field, mainly in the pole vault. Jensen’s success in pole vaulting has seen him win countless titles, including the state pole vaulting title a few weeks ago in the DIAA Indoor Winter Track Championships.
Now, as he enters his final spring season, Jensen is looking ahead to a future at University of Kentucky, but it doesn’t mean he’ll forget where he came from and how he got there.
Jensen first used track and field as a means to get in shape, like many other athletes do. At the time, Jensen was playing football and baseball and he felt that the demands of track and field would help get him into shape. However, Jensen never put down the pole vault after picking it up for the first time.
“Track and Field was originally a way for me to stay in shape for my football and baseball seasons,” said Jensen. “During my first winter season as a freshman, I fell in love with pole vaulting from the first time I did it.”
Appoquinimink Head Coach Michael Roth remembers the first time he saw Mike during his freshmen year, and he knew he was seeing the beginning of something special.
“Mike came in his freshman year for winter track and field and excelled immediately in the pole vault,” said Roth. “From his first competition at Widener College, we could tell he was going to do something special. But, no one could have imagined at that time he would be at the level he is today.”
Although different from baseball and football, Jensen still found that his competitive nature was just as high participating in the pole vault. After seeing what other athletes were capable of, Jensen set out to prove that he could not only equal the best, he could better them.
“The main thing that attracted me to pole vaulting was my competitive spirit,” said Jensen. “I wanted to win. I was lucky enough to have someone jump fifteen feet – six inches during my freshman year and I wanted nothing more than to beat that mark.”
“He is a student of the event,” said Roth. “And is continuously watching and analyzing other competitors and adjusting his own methods to make himself the best he can be.”
Throughout the years, Jensen has used pole vaulting to relax in the same way some of us shoot hoops, or practice our puts on the putting green.
“Pole vault has always been my outlet and I practice to relax,” said Jensen. “Most things in my life revolve around pole vaulting.”
With all that practice and attention came many accolades for Jensen. Now, he’s turned those accolades into opportunity. Next Fall, Jensen will attend the University of Kentucky where he will look to become one of the university’s top competitors in the pole vault.
While leaving home is never easy, especially for high school students off to college, Jensen is looking forward to the experience.
“I’m looking forward to a lot of things going to Kentucky,” said Jensen. “I have had a lot of great experiences and the biggest thing for me is being a little fish in a big pond so to speak. I love competition and I think it will lead to success in many aspects of my life. I will be disappointed leaving my friends here behind, but I see this as an opportunity to meet new people”
Roth is convinced that Jensen’s competitive nature and talent will help him excel at the next level.
“I know Kentucky will be a great fit for him next year,” said Roth. “Looking at the top pole vault rankings in the NCAA, many are coming from the SEC. He will have the opportunity to go against and see great vaulting. With his competitive nature, he will not allow himself to be too far behind and will step up his practices to be at the top of his conference.”