There are very few bars set too high for Priscilla Frederick.
Since her freshman year, the St. John’s high jumper has recorded a finish no lower than 16th in the event, which includes stops to the USA Track and Field Championships, USA Junior Nationals, NCAA, Big East and ECAC championships as well as the Millrose Games.
The 5-foot-11 junior capped off the first half of this year’s season with an eighth place finish at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships last month. The finish earned Frederick NCAA All American honors, making her the first St. John’s track athlete since 2001 to earn the status.
A week later, she began her outdoor season by clearing six feet (1.83 meters) in the high jump in a meet at the University of South Florida. The jump stands as Frederick’s personal best and, as of April 13, was ranked fourth-best in the country. Last month, she had the top spot.
“It’s been pretty exciting so far,” she said. “Being named All American was a cool and humbling experience. It shows that my hard work is paying off. And after clearing six feet, I just want to go higher and higher.”
Although she competes in other events, like the long jump and shot put, the high jump has a special appeal to Frederick.
“I think it’s such a cool event,” she said.
“People underestimate the work involved because it looks like you’re just throwing yourself over a bar but it takes a lot of skill and technique. And it’s a bit different and I’m a bit of a different kind of person so I think it fits my personality.”
In two years, she hopes to bring her skill, technique and personality to London for the Summer Olympics.
Track and Field coach Jim Hurt said he plans to have Frederick sit out next year’s outdoor season so she will be eligible to compete the following year and hopefully qualify for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials.
“She could just do the full season next year and graduate, but then she would have to find new resources and facilities to help her prepare for the Trials,” he said. “This would give her more time to hone her skills and get ready for 2012.”
Frederick said she is confident that she will be up for the task.
“Now that I’ve seen what I can do and what I’m capable of, I’m really aiming high,” she said. “I just want to go out there and do my best.”
Hurt, who has been at St. John’s for 28 years, said he admires Frederick’s work ethic and that she is not easily intimidated by competing on a national stage. He also said the junior is a “coach’s dream” and “ranks right up there with some of the best kids who have come through this program.”
“To have someone doing as well as Priscilla, definitely sets the tone for the team and to have someone competing at such a high level, sets a great example for everyone else,” said Hurt. “When she leaves to compete in national competitions, does well and comes back, it helps raise the bar for everyone. They see her do it, it gets them believing in themselves enough to try and go attain similar success.”