By Rob Kiser
AKRON — Former Covington state champion and current Akron University All-American Jackie Siefring remembers when she came to Akron as a freshman to begin competing in the pentathlon (indoors) and heptathlon (outdoors).
“I was just wanted to be able to get to one of those meets,” Siefring said referring to the NCAA national indoor and outdoor track and field meets.
Now, she is the one everyone else is looking to aspire to, having proven herself to be one of the best in the nation.
And she took another big step last weekend, earning first team All-American honors for the first time in indoors by finishing fourth at the NCAA Indoor National meet at Texas A&M University at College Station, Texas.
“I knew it was my final indoor meet as a Zip,” Siefring said about competing for Akron. “I wanted to do something special.”
It is not easy to come up with something even better with the career Siefring has had, but she managed to do that.
After receiving Mid-American Conference honors as a freshman, Siefring took it to another level as a sophomore.
She earned second team All-American honors in both sports.
She finished 10th in the pentathlon at the NCAA national indoor meet with a score of 4,162 and 12th at the NCAA outdoor nationals in the heptathlon with a score of 5,626.
Siefring repeated as second-team All-American at indoor nationals as a junior, scoring 4.084 points to finish 12th.
At the outdoors meet, she earned first All-American honors in the heptathlon, taking fifth with a score of 5,663 points.
Siefring then followed that with a 10th-place finish at the USTAF National meet with 5,652 points that earned her the opportunity to compete in the Thorpe Cup, where the U.S. team competed against Germany.
So, coming into her senior year, Siefring wanted to take things to another level.
“I was able to hit (some big numbers at different times),” Siefring said. “But, it was sporadic. It ended up working out. I have worked on being more consistent in the long jump, high jump and shot put.”
Those three events, along with 60-meter hurdles and 800 make up the heptathlon. At the outdoors meet, the running events are the 100 hurdles, 200 and 800 and the field events are the high jump, long jump, shot put and javelin.
Siefring’s work paid off in a big way.
She started nationals with a time of 8.67 in the 60 hurdles to stand in 12th-place.
Siefring then cleared 5-6 1-2 in the5-7 3 high jump on her third attempt, before just missing at what would have been a career best 5-7 3-4.
She then made a big move with PRs in the long jump and shot put.
She putted the shot 41-8 3-4, before long jumping 20-3 3-4, the third longest jump in Akron program history.
“I started out 12th,” she said. “I moved up as the competition went on. I don’t know exactly where I stood. I always feel like if I am top eight after the shot put, I am in good shape. I know I was sixth going to the 800, which was a good thing.”
That’s because despite the fact it is her least favorite event, the final event is one of her best.
“I don’t think anyone looks at the 800 and says I can’t wait to run that,” Siefring said with a laugh. “None of the athletes in the (pentathlon or heptathlon) like the 800. That;s just not the kind of athletes we are. I guess the fact I am good at it makes it a little better for me.”
And Siefring nearly ran a PR, turning in a 2:12.65 which was the fastest time of the day. That gave her a school record 4,365 points and moved her into fourth place.
“I just wanted to run a good time and make sure I was first team All-American,” Siefring said. “I was fortunate that I was in a good spot (in the 800).”
Then the celebration began.
“My parents and grandparents have been at every single national meet I have gone to,” Siefring said. “Everybody doesn’t have that. I can’t tell you how much that means to me. I have been so fortunate with all the support I have. And I have gotten a lot of support from the people in Covington as well. I can’t tell you how much that means to me.”
And Siefring hopes to save her best for last — after a short break the outdoor season is about to get underway.
“I had four days off,” Siefring said with a laugh during a phone interview on Wednesday. “I went back to practice today. We just are working on getting my base’s where they should be. This is my last season as a Zip. I want to go crazy and do something special.”
Based on her amazing career, that won’t be a surprise.
Rob Kiser can be reached at (937) 451-3334.