When the average sports fan is asked about track and field, images of Michael Johnson and Marion Jones running the 100 and 200-meter dash probably come to mind.
Pole vaulters don’t necessarily enjoy the same attention as a famous sprinter, but may in fact be the best all-around athletes in track and field. University of Miami pole vaulter Jabari Ennis is a perfect example of an all-around athlete who has the capability to excel in any field event.
The senior from Kingston, Jamaica has fully recovered from a potentially crippling knee injury and plans to gain plenty of national attention for himself this season as he tries to finish strong in both the Big East and NCAA championships.
“Rehab was real hard and put things in perspective for me,” Ennis said. “I had to learn how to walk again and go through tough lifting sessions. Seeing other people go through it in the past helped inspire me to fully recover.”
Before his injury, Ennis was UM’s top ranked vaulter during both the 2001 indoor and outdoor seasons and placed sixth at the Big East Outdoor Championships. Ennis plans on building on his past success to continue improving this season.
“My goal is to win both the Big East and NCAA’s,” Ennis said. “This year’s team can do a lot of damage in both the pole vault and sprints.”
Ennis opened up the 2003 season with a first place finish at the Florida Intercollegiates in Gainesville on Jan. 18. His vault of 5.05 meters qualified for the Big East Championships in May.
Ennis points to the Oklahoma Invitational as a meet where he has done well in the past and plans to beat his personal best there.
“The track is wonderful in Oklahoma,” Ennis said. “I hope to break personal records there and jump 17 feet for the first time.”
Ennis also brings back great memories every time he makes the trip to Norman and considers those meets his favorite.
“I would have to say the Oklahoma meets have been the highlight of my career so far,” Ennis said. “I do very well there and I enjoy the trips with my friends.”
What most people don’t realize about pole vaulting, according to Ennis, is that one must be talented in all areas of track and field in order to have success.
“If someone asked me to describe pole vaulting, I would tell them that to do well you must beat all of the sprinters, throw farther than the throwers and jump higher than anyone else,” Ennis said. “It is all about technique and you have to work out your whole body because balance is critical.”
Ennis is only six inches away from qualifying for the 2004 Olympics and will earn a degree in Computer Engineering this May. He hopes to accomplish his ultimate goal of representing Jamaica.
“It has always been my goal to compete in the Olympics,” Ennis said. “My next personal record should qualify and hopefully you will see me in 2004.”
-You can reach Eric Kalis at email@example.com