Friday, January 29, 2010
Llerandi is Villanova Vault Queen
On January 9th Ashlyn Llerandi, a junior vaulter on the Villanova T&F team, set a new school record in the vault, breaking the record set back in 2002. Here is an article about Ashlyn from The Ridgewood News (NJ):
RHS Grad Llerandi Sets Villanova Vault Record
Friday, January 29, 2010
BY GAIL KISLEVITZ
The Ridgewood News
PHILADELPHIA — From the beginning of time, humans have tried to fly, to soar through the air like a bird. Ashlyn Llerandi has learned the secret and has flown to great heights.
Llerandi, a 2007 Ridgewood High School graduate and current junior at Villanova University, set a new school record in the pole vault, jumping 12 feet, 5.5 inches at the Penn State Relays on Jan. 9. The previous record had stood since 2002, and she cleared it by 1.5 inches.
During her four years at RHS, Llerandi participated in cross-country, track, lacrosse, swimming and the pole vault. "I was a confused athlete," Llerandi said with a laugh and her trademark sweet disposition.
During the spring of her freshman year, she casually walked onto the field and picked up a pole just to try it out and cleared 8 feet in her first jump. According to Maroons pole vault coach Don Cooper, that height would have won her the freshman county championship. She joined the track and field team her sophomore year. Llerandi credits Cooper, her neighbor in Ridgewood, with her interest in the sport.
When the Llerandi family moved next door to Cooper in 1991, he saw the talent in Ashlyn and encouraged her to take up the sport. But she enjoyed being a multi-sport athlete, even if it meant being a dilettante in all and a master of none. That all changed when she took the pole vault more seriously and set her sights on Villanova.
During a visit to the university her senior year, she called the Wildcats' pole vault coach, Talen Singer, and asked for a meeting. He had no idea who she was but was impressed with her moxie, her talent and her determination.
"She is amazingly dedicated and has what it takes to be the best," said Singer. "She put in a ton of work to become a dedicated pole vaulter, and it has paid off for her."
For Llerandi, who comes from a sports-dedicated family – her parents Mike and Alyson are both competitive triathletes and runners – this is a dream come true, and she thrives on the training and the competition.
"I don't know what I would do with out it," said Ashlyn, who was voted a VU team captain. "My parents always told me to find my passion, and I have. I love what I do."
Making the switch to dedicated one-sport athlete from a multi-sport background wasn't easy. The pole vault is very different from her other sports, and Llerandi found the preparation more strenuous than anything she has ever done. "There are so many variables to contend with in this sport, and they all need to click together to make the leap," she said.
In fact, from her first step on the mat to the final push over the bar to the landing takes all of six seconds. There is no room for error.
Llerandi is making sure that no errors are made on her way to becoming the best she can be. Singer believes she has the talent to go all the way to a Big East title. "She's made the sacrifices and has the savvy to compete on the big stage," said the coach. "I couldn't be happier with her performance. She has a winning attitude and is a great leader to the younger girls on the team."
Ashlyn Llerandi has evolved into an athlete who feels comfortable competing on the big stage and along the way has raised the bar for Villanova and herself. Cooper had this to say about her: "I don't believe she is done growing as an athlete, and she will achieve higher heights in the future if her vaulting is anything like her work ethic. For her, the sky is the limit."
One can only guess where this talented young lady with the big smile and contagious personality will land.