West De Pere’s Eliza Aitken vaulting to new heights

West De Pere’s Eliza Aitken vaulting to new heights
Published: Apr. 13, 2023 at 7:56 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - West De Pere’s Eliza Aitken has become one of the top pole vaulters in the state, but her start in the sport came from a place you may not expect.

She’s a warrior.

A Ninja Warrior to be exact.

“It’s a lot of fun. It’s really good for strengthening everything, and especially mental toughness,” said Eliza Aitken.

Aitken got her start a gym not far from home called Warrior Jungle, and eventually an appearance on Universal Kid’s “Ninja Warrior Junior.” Training in ninja also led Aitken to her calling in track and field, the pole vault.

“I saw a lot of pro ninjas were pole vaulters in college. So, that’s kind of how I was introduced to pole vaulting. In ninja there’s a lot of body awareness that you need. Kind of when you’re flying through the air on a ninja obstacle, it’s similar to having body awareness when you’re going over a bar,” said Aitken.

Since picking up the pole as a freshman, Aitken has developed into one of best in Wisconsin. Culminating with a second place finish at the WIAA state meet in La Crosse last spring.

“I ran three events at state and vaulted. So, I was really happy with second place. I’m already doing a lot better than last year. I’m hitting the heights I want to right now,” said Aitken.

This year she continues to rise to the occasion. Including not only a championship at the Indoor Meet at UW-Whitewater last weekend, but also a new state record.

“I’ve been chasing thirteen for probably the past year. The last three meets I had, I attempted thirteen. Because the last record was 13′ 1″ we decided to go 13′ 2″ and I made it first attempt,” said Aitken.

Now as the season moves outside for the rest of spring, there are more titles and records out there for the South Dakota recruit to accomplish.

“You kind of have to think about it as doing better every meet. Even if it’s by like an inch. That’s going to improve, kind of, your mentality going into a meet when you know you can hit the heights you’ve been working at forever. When I’m at a big meet, it’s kind of more important that I’m on. I don’t really think about the numbers all the time, but when I know I can jump the numbers that I can, the numbers are just going to come,” said Aitken.