Oak Park’s Kroeschell eyes state title, Wichita State

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McKenzee Kroeschell travels to the Kansas City area once or twice a month, so it would make sense that the Oak Park-River Forest senior would decide to go to college near there.

Kroeschell has already become the best girls pole vaulter in school history and is looking to take an even bigger step this spring with nothing less than a Class 3A state championship. She finished third (12-foot-3) in the pole vault last season.

Kroeschell signed with Wichita State March 14. The Wheat Shockers have only one other Chicago area native on their roster with former West Aurora sprinter Shanice Andrews, a sophomore.

“There was such a community feeling,” Kroeschell said about her Wichita State visit. “They remembered me and they all knew my name. They sat with me at a banquet. I liked that (part of the) country and I really wanted to be on that team.”

At Wichita State, Kroeschell plans on majoring in industrial engineering. She chose the Shockers over Illinois.

Kroeschell also will be close to her personal coach, J.J. Lawler, who works out of Xtreme Athletics in Overland Park, Kan.

Lawler’s training has helped Kroeschell realize heights that she could never imagine when she started off as a freshman vaulting 6-feet.

Now Kroeschell attends camps in Wisconsin and participated in the Reno (Nev.) Pole Vault Convention in the offseason. She also competed in Rolling Meadows’ Pole Vault Summit earlier this month.

Kroeschell enjoys the adrenaline rush of pole vaulting. Her goal in each meet is a simple one.

“I have to go higher,” she said.

Kroeschell won the West Suburban Silver indoor meet Friday night at York by clearing 11-6. She placed second last season. She then attempted to break the meet record of 12-0 set by Hinsdale Central’s Cassie Ludwig in 2007. But using a new pole did not work. She could not get close to clearing 12-0 for the record.

To match her indoor career high of 11-6, Kroeschell went through three smaller poles that could not help her get to 12-feet. He last pole was 13-6 in length and had a weight restriction of 145 pounds. That pole contained carbon fibers to lighten the weight compared to an all-fiberglass pole.

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