DAVIDSON – Even as a two-time state champion, Hadley Zucker is still finding new ways to improve at pole vaulting.
This season, the Davidson Day junior has added the 100 meters and 4X100-meter relay to her event list – though given the nature of her primary event, she doesn’t always compete with the Patriots during the regular season.
“I’ve never done the 100, but I like it because it helps me work my speed, which is really good for pole vaulting,” said Zucker, who transferred from Woodlawn after her freshman year. “If you’re fast, you’ll get on a big pole and essentially get really high. Speed is probably number one. Then confidence would be number two. If you’re not confident then you’re not going to jump off the ground to get big poles.”
Her NCISAA state-title heights in 2017 and 2018 were 10 feet even, but during the Bojangles’ Track & Field Classic April 13 in Columbia, S.C., she reached 10 feet, 6 inches.
At the meet, which drew athletes from across the Southeast, she finished 16th, 6 inches from the mark of Pine Lake Prep’s Ally Richardson.
“It was rough,” Zucker said. “I didn’t do my best, but I had fun and some of my teammates did really well, so I was happy about that. That was my first super-big meet. Just the atmosphere was so nice, and there were so many great athletes. Everyone was so supportive.”
For the spring, Zucker trains with Mooresville-based Rocket Man and for the indoor season travels to High Point to practice at VaultHouse. She has aspirations to continue pole vaulting in college, and has her eyes on Davidson as well as northeastern schools Bucknell and Bates College.
“It’s the kind of thing where it’s nice working with an athlete of her caliber,” Davidson Day track and field coach David Hall said. “She’s interested in going to college and competing. The kids are motivated to work out to some degree but they don’t have the training ethic and work ethic of someone that’s serious about it going to college. She’s at a whole different level as far as her commitment, her will to get better.”
Since Zucker trains either out of town or on her own at the Davidson track – Davidson Day’s “home” track is at Bailey Middle School where there is no vault pit – Hall said he can’t take credit for Zucker’s successes but appreciates her being with the team when she can. She’s competed in four of the team’s five meets this spring.
“Someone like Hadley could completely vault on her own,” Hall said. “She could say, ‘I’m not going be part of a school.’ But she loves being on the team. She gets along well with the other girls. It’s just hard when we don’t see her at practice.”
The summer before coming to Davidson Day in 2017, Zucker tore her ACL and took almost a year to fully recover.
“It was a long time to wait, it was so sad,” she said. “I’ll be out for like three days and it’s hard.”
Now healthy, Zucker’s goal is to reach 12 feet, 9 inches by the end of the summer – that would’ve been good for first at Bojangles’. The all-classification state record is 12 feet, 7 inches by Zucker’s VaultHouse teammate Lindsay Absher of West Forsyth.