July 25, 2016

Partly cloudy

College track and field: Foster sisters double their pleasure

The Foster kids did it again.

Competing in the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Grand Valley State University, the Cloverleaf graduates brought home more hardware to an already overflowing drawer full of awards.

For Stephanie, a 2009 Cloverleaf graduate and Walsh University senior, it was the perfect way to go out. She finished third in the pole vault at 13 feet, 5¼ inches.

Foster became Walsh’s first NCAA All-American after she finished fourth in the indoor national championships in March. All-Americans are determined by those who place in the top eight at the national championships.

“It definitely meant more,” she said. “I wanted to go out with a bang and do the best I could. I didn’t want any regrets. I had a great meet. I was smiling the whole time. Even when I missed at 13-9, I went over and gave my coach a big hug.”

She got a chance to give her little sister a hug as well. Jennifer, a 2011 Cloverleaf graduate and Ashland junior, finished third in the high jump at 5-9¼.

Jennifer’s All-America honor was the fifth of her career. She earned that status in indoor this season and in 2013 to go along with the three outdoor accolades.

“It definitely meant a lot because she was there with me and it was the last time she could be with me,” Jennifer said of competing with her sister. “It was nice to watch her compete before I did. It got me motivated. It will definitely drive me a lot. I want to go out and finish strong like Steph did.”

The weekend was so much more to both, as budding storylines took shape as a result of their efforts.

For Stephanie, her final outing earned her Ashland Female Athlete of the Year for the second time. She also earned the honor in 2011-12 and was one of a select few athletes to automatically qualify for the indoor and outdoor national meets this season.

Stephanie won a total of nine pole vault competitions during the 2013-14 season and finished second in the indoor and outdoor Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletics Conference Championships

Her best outdoor vault of the year, 13-6½, broke her school record and her vault of 13-5¼ indoors set a school mark. Stephanie, who was also a two-time all-region and All-GLIAC selection, owns the second-highest indoor and outdoor vaults in the nation this season.

Add it up and the athlete of the year award was a virtual lock for the senior, who has her sights set on one day competing at the Olympic Trials.

“I’m so honored to be a two-time winner,” she said. “It was such a big honor to have it the first time. To have it again, it’s just crazy. I didn’t think I could qualify for that. I set my standards really high. I’m happy with all my accomplishments.”

Jennifer’s efforts helped the women’s team finish fifth. That, plus watching her sister achieve greatness, will serve to push her into rare air as she looks to achieve All-America status for a sixth and seventh time next season.

“It was really exciting individually and from a team standpoint,” Jennifer said. “It was nice to see all your efforts pay off for the team.”

Contact Brad Bournival at sports@medina-gazette.com.