Zach Siegmeier wasn’t about to let a little wind ruin his day Sunday in Columbus, Ohio.
As a pole vaulter at the University of Minnesota, Siegmeier has done his fair share of vaulting in less than ideal conditions.
“Up here in Minnesota, we’re used to that,” said Siegmeier, a Crystal Lake Central graduate. “We’ve been in full winter mode until about a week ago.”
Sunday’s winds at the Big Ten Conference outdoor track and field championships were unpredictable.
“The winds were all over the place,” Siegmeier said. “It went from a crosswind to a headwind to a tailwind. I knew the winds were going to be a concern [all day].”
So Siegmeier adjusted by shortening his approach to each vault.
“I knew I could be more consistent with a shorter run,” he said, “but I probably wouldn’t jump as high.”
Siegmeier was right on one account.
He cleared 17 feet, 1 inch Sunday to win the Big Ten outdoor title less than three months after he finished 24th at the conference’s indoor meet.
“It’s a huge accomplishment,” Siegmeier said. “It’s something I’ve been working toward my whole career. It’s almost a relief, that all of the hard work that I’ve put in has paid off.”
Siegmeier, who earned All-Big Ten first-team honors for his performance, missed his first two attempts at 16-11 to set up a pressure-packed third and final attempt.
“I think everybody else watching was a lot more nervous than I was,” Siegmeier said with a laugh.
He cleared the bar on his final attempt, then was the only vaulter to clear 17-1.
“I had a feeling that was going to be the winning bar,” said Siegmeier, whose personal best is 17-5 as a collegian.
Siegmeier will be one of 23 Minnesota athletes to compete beginning Thursday at the NCAA West Regional in Austin, Texas. The top 12 finishers in each event will advance to the national meet June 5 to 8 in Eugene, Ore.
“It’s been a big confidence booster,” Siegmeier said of the conference title. “It lets me know that all the time and sacrifice I’ve put in is paying off.”
He said advancing to nationals likely will take a new personal best.
“I think it’s going to take 17-7,” he said.
Headed to nationals: Crystal Lake Central grad Mitch Osborne, a senior at Wisconsin-Whitewater, has earned a bid to play in the NCAA Division III men’s tennis nationals beginning Thursday in Kalamazoo, Mich.
Osborne is one half of the Warhawks’ No. 1 doubles team, which has a 15-8 record, including an eight-match winning streak with partner Ben Shkylar. They have a 9-1 record in their past 10 matches and are one of 16 doubles entrants in the tournament.
Osborne, who is playing at nationals in doubles for the second year in a row, also will be part of the Whitewater squad in the team competition beginning Monday in Kalamazoo. The Warhawks are making their seventh consecutive trip to nationals as a team.
Crystal Lake South grad Cam Laktash, a Whitewater sophomore, is 10-1 this season at No. 3 doubles and 6-4 playing at various singles spots in the lineup.
Powered by Pyan: Carthage College softball player Vicki Pyan (Crystal Lake South) was named second-team All-Great Lakes Region by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association and second-team All-College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin this spring.
Pyan, a junior who plays third base, batted .359 for No. 22 Carthage this season while leading the team in doubles (15), on-base percentage (.469) and triples (two). She also ranked second on the team in runs (31), slugging percentage (.624) and stolen bases (seven).
Carthage advanced to the semifinal round of the NCAA D-III North Central Regional before its season ended with a 33-12 record.
• Barry Bottino writes a weekly column and a blog about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at BarryOnCampus@hotmail.com, check out his On Campus blog at McHenryCountySports.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryOnCampus.