This week, the Hopkins Track and Field team split off to Fairfax, Va. and Lewisburg, Pa. to take part in the George Mason Patriot Games and Gulden Invitational, respectively. Hopkins had standout performances from both the men and the women at both events, but this week, The News-Letter highlights junior pole-vaulter and pentathlon runner Annie Gutierrez.
This weekend, Gutierrez smashed the previous Hopkins women’s pole vault record with a height of 3.71 meters, becoming the first woman in Hopkins history to pass the 12-foot mark. Gutierrez didn’t stop there: Later that day, she set another career best in the pentathlon with 3,289 points.
Gutierrez spoke to The News-Letter about these accomplishments, her goals moving forward, and the help she had along the way.
The News-Letter: You broke not just the prior Hopkins record but became the first woman to clear the 12-foot mark. How does that make you feel? Is it something you’d done before in practice already?
Annie Guiterrez: I’m really excited to have finally cleared 12 feet! It’s been my goal to clear 12 feet ever since my senior year of high school. I’d never cleared a 12-foot bar in practice, but we do practice with a bungee [a soft rubber band that stays up rather than having to be put up every time it’s knocked over] at higher heights than we have cleared as a goal point, so anywhere from 12 to 14 feet. In our first two meets during January, I was very close to clearing heights around the 12-foot mark, so it was amazing to finally have everything come together.
N-L: You also set a new career best in the pentathlon. How does your approach to pushing yourself and personal improvement differ between the two events?
AG: The pentathlon is definitely very different from pole vault. Doing five events in one day is challenging because if one event doesn’t go well, you can’t dwell on it because you have four others to do! Each event in the pent is unique from the others, so it can be tough to switch gears so quickly.
While both require a lot of focus and it’s important to stay collected, pole vault is where a calm and positive mental attitude matters the most to me. This year I have prioritized staying confident and relaxed rather than letting the nervous energy run wild. It’s made all the difference, especially with vault.
N-L: You’re already ranked in the top 10 in the nation in both events. Beyond qualification for National Collegiate Athletic Association Championships, what goals do you have for this season?
AG: I want to break nine seconds in the 60 hurdles. This season I’ve seen a lot of improvement in my hurdle race, and I’m close to the school record, so I think that would be the next step.
My other goal is to score over 30 points at conferences to help my team win another title! This isn’t much of a personal goal, but I would love to see my teammate Sophia Cortazzo qualify for nationals in the vault!
N-L: Who on your team or among your coaches has helped you achieve these feats?
AG: I wouldn’t be where I am today without the guidance of my friend Jenn Su, who was a senior multi [pentathlete and heptathlete] when I was a freshman and helped out as an assistant coach during my sophomore year. She inspired me with her strong work ethic and genuine love for the multi and made me love it too.
Sophia has also been such a driving force because we are always so close in height! We have a great friendly competition and genuinely want to see each other succeed.
Training for the multi with my coach Alex Jebb has made me a better all-around versatile athlete, which, in turn, has made me stronger and faster for the vault. My pole vault coach Jim Townsend kept morale high through my first two years of college when vault was not going as well as I had wanted and continues to work with me to help me learn and grow as an athlete. And, of course, Bobby van Allen and Shedrick Elliot III keep everything running smoothly to allow us all to train and compete so well!