Siegmeier ready to repeat as Big Ten champ

Megan Ryan

The concept of trajectory can be a tricky thing, but it hasn’t seemed to be a problem for Gophers senior pole vaulter Zach Siegmeier.

He ended his junior track and field season with a big jump — literally — and won the Big Ten outdoor championships, his first major competition gold.

That success, however, didn’t cut into his focus for the summer and fall. Instead, Siegmeier continued his upward curve by knocking off personal bests before winning another title at the Big Ten indoor championships this season.

Though the outdoor season has just started, the senior is already primed to repeat last year’s title-winning performance after nabbing the Big Ten Field Athlete of the Week honor March 26.

His coach, Paul Thornton, said the turnaround started long before Siegmeier’s first Big Ten title.

When the Gophers lost last year’s Big Ten indoor championships by a slim margin, Siegmeier, who didn’t place in his event, left thinking his performance cost the team the title.

“When we came back … Zach and I sat down, and he asked how he can become better,” Thornton said. “And the primary thing was speed. He was a very good pole vaulter, but he needed to be faster.”

So Siegmeier took it upon himself to improve his sprinting and approach, which led him to success — he set a personal best in his first outdoor meet after the disappointing end to his indoor season.

“I wasn’t satisfied with where I was at,” he said. “And I … used that as motivation.”

His teammate, junior Logan Markuson, serves as one of his training partners. Markuson said Siegmeier’s stellar results are a product of focus and hard work.

“He’s one of those guys who brings all the intensity to the weight room,” he said. “He’s going to get on you if you’re late.”

While Siegmeier may be strong competition in the Big Ten this year, he said he doesn’t feel much like a powerhouse pole vaulter.

“I still see targets on other people’s backs that I’m trying to go after,” he said.

As for his trajectory, Siegmeier said he’s noticed his development and plans to capitalize on it, even after graduation.

“I’m going to keep training for pole vault and just see where that can take me,” he said. “I’ve been rapidly improving over the last year, and so I’m really interested to see.”