While there might not be much track going on in New York State, there is plenty of history to pore through. In our time off, we are looking to revisit all of the State Records for the Outdoor Season. Who these athletes were, where their marks came from, and where are they now. Twice a week, we'll be releasing "Snapshots Of A State Record," where you can learn what it takes, to be put your mark on history. Tune in!
We look here at the fourth-oldest record still on the books for the girls. Enjoy!
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Tiffany Maskulinski is set. The bar is at 14 feet and she is seeking to go where no high school girl has ever gone outdoors. Only one vaulter, Mary Saxer, has ever topped 14 feet (twice), but that was indoors with the first clearance coming in a meet at which Maskulinski broke the national indoor record and held it for a short span until Saxer did 14-0 later in the day.
It is August 6, 2005, and Maskulinski graduated from Iroquois HS in Elma NY about a month and a half ago. But she hasn't made her trip out to Washington State University to begin her college career yet, and she has one last chance at a very late season meet in Monroe County to set another state and national record before she heads west. This time if she makes it, maybe her mark will last more than a few minutes, maybe even well into the future, like 2020.
Small in size but ready to reach for a record of huge national stature, she raises the pole and heads down the runway. Making her plant, she rises and does a perfect vault for the 14-0 height. As one very informed girls' pole vault fan states, "It is by far one of the best jumps I've ever seen from a technical standpoint." And technically, Maskulinski has a record that at least in New York will last a long time. At the end of a season that saw her cede her junior-year status as national and state champion to her vaulting partner Saxer, the final trek upward to that long-sought 14 foot goal is sweet.
Tiffany Maskulinski grew up within a large family in Elma NY, about twenty miles southeast of Buffalo, and attended Iroquois HS. Elma and Iroquois have hosted the States Cross Country Championship five times and most recently in 2012, but it was in another sport -- track and field -- that Maskulinski staked her claim to fame. Her first listing online for the sport comes from between her freshman and sophomore years at the Niagara Region's Junior Olympics meet at which she took 7th place in the 100m and also 3rd of three contestants in the pole vault at 8-0. Also competing there was a girl from nearby Lancaster also going into her sophomore year, Mary Saxer, who won the long jump at an impressive 16-3 but did not compete in the pole vault.
Eight feet was a long way below the heights that Maskulinksi would reach a few years later. But she was in one of best places to learn how to excel in the pole vault, which had just recently been opened up to the girls. First included at the States outdoor meet in 1998 with a winning height of 11 feet and in the 1999 States indoor meet with the tops at 10 feet, the pole vault had been steadily gaining support and higher clearances, as Amy Linnen of Mt. Sinai in 2000 set a national record at 12-10 and won States indoor at 11-0 and the States outdoor contest at 12-0 and Foot Locker Nationals at 13-0.25 to set a national record.
Besides Mt. Sinai on Long Island and the lower Hudson area where long-time Warwick Valley coach and pole vaulting maven Tim St. Lawrence was about to open a legendary PV facility generally known as "The Barn," the western NY area between Buffalo and Rochester was also becoming a hot bed for the new wave of girls pole vaulters. Former Spencerport wrestling and pole vault Section 5 champ Rick Suhr had opened up a sports training facility in 1993 after graduating from Brockport State and taking a job in the Churchville-Chili school system. Although Suhr helped train athletes in a variety of sports, it was with high school and college women pole vaulters in the early 2000s that he began to make a special mark.
Maskulinski was one of a group of athletes in the area who took advantage of the Suhr Sports facility to pump up their pole vaulting skills, a band that included Mary Saxer of Lancaster and Jennifer O'Neil of Fairport. And of course another who would join the Suhr Sports team as a college graduate was Fredonia's 2000 States pentathlon champ Jenn Stuczynski, who in 2006 would win the US PV championship after only nine months training with Suhr and then go on to capture a silver medal in the 2008 Olympics and then gold in 2012 after her marriage to Suhr.
So Maskulinski was in a great spot for PV, and she became the first of the girls pole vaulters on the Suhr team to soar, starting with a win in the Empire States Games in the summer of 2003. Maskulinski certainly was getting the training she needed to succeed, but she also needed the vaulting techniques that would allow her to compensate for her relatively short size. Top pole vaulter's are generally marked with at least a medium sized frame and very strong shoulders to help them work the pole and stretch over the bar. Jenn Stuczynski Suhr is 6 feet tall, for instance. Like current indoor NY indoor states record holder Leah Paqualetti who is 5' 2", Maskulinski at 5' 3" needed great form and tremendous push off to keep going higher.
Maskulinksi first owned the Section 5 pole vault record when she vaulted 10-6 at a dual meet at some point. From the start of her junior season in December 2003, Maskulinski seized control of the NY pole vaulting scene to begin her road to a national championship. Beginning the indoor season with a 12-3 and raising the bar to 12-9 by the end of the month to lead the nation, she forged on to a 13-0 at the Roberts Wesleyan Challenge in January to break Amy Linnen's state record of 12-10. Although she then jumped 12-6 at the Section 5 State Qualifier, she failed to make a height at States. Her Suhr teammate Saxer took 2nd behind Mt. Sinai's Kaitlyn Fitzgerald, and Saxer also took gold in the long jump.
From national leader during the indoor season, Maskulinski went on to push the boundaries higher in the outdoor season. At the Western Track Classic in mid May, she got an outdoor PR of 12-7 but missed three attempts to break Linnen's outdoor state mark of 13-0. The record came at the ECIC championship on May 22 when she topped 13-1. At Section 6 SQ's she pushed the record to 13-3.5, and she claimed the state championship in June at another record of 13-5, one that was also a national junior class record. Suhr teammates Saxer and O'Neil finished 2nd and 3rd while jumping 12-3, and Saxer again won the long jump. Maskulinski got the new record on her first attempt at 13-5, despite broiling in a hot sun all day, which really impressed Coach Suhr. "She was kind of on tired legs," he said as she had to go down a couple of pole sizes at the end. "I didn't know if we had enough pole to make it."
Maskulinski's legs got refreshed pretty quickly though, because a little over a week later she was vaulting at the Western Track Series meet and set new state and national junior class records with a 13-6 mark. The year ended with a national title at the Adidas Outdoor Championship in Raleigh NC. Both she and O'Neil cleared 13-1.5, but Maskulinski took 1st on fewer misses. As would be expected, she was named the nation's top scholastic pole vaulter by Track and Field News at the end of the season.
Senior indoor season got going well enough for Maskulinski, though now she was going head-to-head with Suhr teammate Mary Saxer for the state and national lead. The two went together to the Dartmouth Relays, and Maskulinski took the first shot at breaking the national indoor record of 13-5. She got it at 13-5.5, which was then equaled by Saxer a few minutes later. Only Saxer could go beyond, as she first cleared 13-7 and then became the first high school vaulter to break 14 feet when she went to 14-0.
The rest of indoors was owned by Saxer as she captured the States title at 13-5 and then went on to win at Nationals with a 14-2 mark to break her own record from Dartmouth Relays. Maskulinski's season appeared to end early.
Outdoors in 2005 was a little more productive for Maskulinski though not at the level of her junior season. She topped Saxer at Section 6 State Qualifiers with a 12-0 height, though both vaulters were mainly just getting set for States. A week later at Cicero-North Syracuse, Saxer captured another title in the pole vault at 13-0 plus one more long jump crown. Maskulinski finished in a tie for 2nd at 12-0.
From there it was on to another trip to Nationals in mid June for Maskulinski to try to defend her 2004 crown. In yet another contest with Saxer, both of the Suhr team vaulters cleared 12-9.5, but the title went to Saxer on fewer misses.
Normally the high school year would have been long over when August rolled around, but after Nationals Maskulinski got to spend a month and a half training for the times ahead. On August 6, 2005, she went to a meet that is listed in the record books as the Monroe County USATF Championships, though the USATF National Junior Olympic Championships had ended the week before and the local regional qualifiers were held in early July. Whatever the case, Maskulinski had one last shot at a national record, and she got it with her 14-0 vault. The record would stand for two years until it was broken by Tori Anthony of Palo Alto CA.
Maskulinski went west for one year at Washington State and recorded a 13-1.5 vault that qualified her for Nationals although she did not attend the meet. Transferring back to her home area, she joined the University of Buffalo team. After sitting out the 2006-07 track seasons, she returned to pole vaulting in the 2008 outdoor season, though it was a tough time as her father Dennis passed away that April. She competed later on in May at the NCAA East regionals and vaulted 12-6. During her last two years with the Buffaloes, Maskulinski reached 12-11.5 indoors and 13-1.75 outdoors in 2008-09, and in her last year she reached 13-9.5 indoors in a 2nd at the Penn State Invite and 13-5.5 at the University of Tennessee in April 2010 when she got the win over her old friend Mary Saxer at the Sea Ray Relays. She also won the MAC championship for Buffalo that year, and her winning vault is included in the video below. She represented Buffalo at the NCAA D1 Nationals but did not make finals.
Graduating from Buffalo after majoring in exercise science, Maskulinski served as an assistant track coach while earning a doctor of physical therapy degree there. After marrying former Iroquois basketball star Nathan Regdos, she settled in East Aurora, where she is part of physical therapy rehabilitation clinical group. As a former pole vaulter who often battled injuries in a physically demanding event, she has a great background for the field.
Before Maskulinski first broke the NY State outdoor pole vault mark in May 2004, the record holder was Mt. Sinai's Amy Linnen, who set the mark while winning the Foot Locker National title in June 2000 at 13-0.25. Linnen went on to break the collegiate national record while winning the NCAA Indoor championships at 14-10.25 as a sophomore at the University of Arizona. After graduating, she returned home to become a coach for Mt. Sinai.