On Friday afternoon, Seymour’s Mikaela Grout made history for the girls track and field program.
Grout, a senior, signed to pole vault at Taylor University this fall — the first pole vaulter to sign a letter of intent for the Owls.
In her short time vaulting, Grout set the school record last season clearing 9-6 and has two sectional championships — which led to regional berths.
Taylor, located in Upland, is an NAIA school in the Crossroads League.
The women’s program is headed by coach David Neville, a former sprinter who won gold (4×400 relay) and bronze (400) medals for the United States in Beijing during the 2008 Summer Olympics.
At first glance, Grout said she didn’t have Taylor on her radar.
“My dad had me go visit, and I didn’t really think I wanted to go there,” Grout said. “Once I visited, I fell in love with it. I met a lot of my (future) teammates and did an overnight at the school. They were all really nice and are passionate about Christ. They want to use their abilities the best that they can.”
Seymour coach Bob Sexton said that Grout will fit in with the school well.
“It’s a school that’s the right size for her in a great community,” he said. “There are a lot of great people there, and she has already made friends. I know a few people in that area — it’s a great place.
“Mikaela worked extremely hard in the offseason, going up to Fort Wayne and getting help from some coaches up there.
A fierce competitor, Sexton said he thinks Grout will compete for a vaulting position.
“She’s at 9-6 and will clear 10-feet by the end of the season,” Sexton said. “She’s just competitive. A couple weeks ago, we were down at a meet (versus Columbus East) by two points going into the last event, and I wasn’t sure if I should tell the relay team that.
“I knew with Mikaela (running the last leg) I could say something: if I told her she would work harder. She won that race, and that’s her. She likes the competition whether it’s sprints, long jump or pole vaulting.”
Grout said that she has gotten better at pole vaulting through watching video of herself and professionals.
Going into the college ranks, Grout hopes to improve dramatically with fresh faces.
“I am expecting to improve a lot,” Grout said. “I think if I get more training time I will clear higher numbers. I’m hoping to actually jump during meets.”
The senior plans on studying business when she’s not on the track.