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Athlete of the Week: Linnen vaults over competition

EMILY REID/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Ex-gymnast Amy Linnen has found her niche among the nation's elite track and field athletes.
By Chris Wuensch
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday March 4, 2003

Name: Amy Linnen
Year: Junior
Sport: Track and field

When Amy Linnen cleared the bar last week at the Mountain Pacific Indoor Conference Championships, the junior from Mt. Sinai, New York landed on top of the list of the NCAA's best women's pole vaulters in the nation.

Linnen's leap of 14 feet, 4.75 inches was number one among stiff conference competition, good enough to earn her the NCAA Division I Track and Field Athlete of the Week.

After winning the conference title at the indoor championships last weekend in Boise, Idaho, Linnen, the reigning women's NCAA indoor champion, now sets her sights on a repeat at the NCAA indoor championships to be held in Fayetteville, Arkansas March 14 and 15. When Linnen competes in the NCAA championships in mid-March, the junior will hold the top mark in the country with her 14 feet, 4.75 vault.

WILDCAT: It's quite an honor to be named NCAA Track and Field Athlete of the Week. How did you feel?

LINNEN: I was very happy about it.

WILDCAT: How do you like your chances in the upcoming nationals?

LINNEN: I hold the collegiate record for right now; hopefully I'll break that this year, again. I just have to stay focused, and do what I know how to do.

WILDCAT: Which do you like better; indoor or outdoor?

LINNEN: They both have their pros and cons. Indoor has less variables like wind and weather factors. But outdoors, if you get a nice day and you get a good tail wind, you can have a good day.

WILDCAT: Have you always wanted to be a pole-vaulter?

LINNEN: My whole life I was a gymnast, and played every sport imaginable, but my main sport was gymnastics. Not until my junior year in high school did I get interested in pole vaulting. Where I'm from in New York, they didn't have girl's pole-vaulting. I really wanted to pole vault but they didn't have it, so I went to camp and that's where I learned how to pole-vault. We got it approved my senior year, so that year I started pole vaulting. Ever since then it's been something that kind of took off, literally.

WILDCAT: Did you hold any records in high school?

LINNEN: I had the New York state pole vault record. I don't know if it's still there, but at the time I did.

WILDCAT: I understand you were close to the (NCAA) record last meet.

LINNEN: In Boise the original record is 14 feet, 10.25 inches, and we went for 14, 10.75 inches higher and it was good because all season I haven't been jumping at those heights. It was nice to jump at that height again.

WILDCAT: Can you set that record?

LINNEN: Practice has been going really well and I jumped last year really well at that height. I know I have the timing, I know I have the ability to jump this.

WILDCAT: What made you decide to come to Arizona?

LINNEN: Overall it was the best school for me, no cons, all pros. I enjoyed the coaching staff here and the weather of course for great

training, also the facilities and academics are great. I couldn't go wrong coming here.

WILDCAT: Did you check out ASU?

LINNEN: No, I wasn't contacted by ASU. I don't know too much about ASU, but I like it here.

WILDCAT: People ever give you flack about your accent?

LINNEN: Oh yeah, I've muffled it down a little bit. I don't sound so much like I used to, but it comes out every once in a while and people do notice it.

WILDCAT: Words like dog and water, I'm from New Jersey, I hear it all the time also.

LINNEN: Daughter, water, yeah stuff like that. You wanna get a cup of cawfee?

WILDCAT: I tell them that they are the ones that have the accent, not me.

LINNEN: Exactly.

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