Cavalier Corner

June 2018

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22 CAVALIER CORNER BY MIKE SCANDURA W HEN REDSHIRT third- year Bridget Guy en- rolled at Virginia in 2014, the school record for the women's pole vault was 12 feet, six inches. At the Virginia Chal- lenge in April of this year, Guy shattered that mark by vaulting 14-7½. That Guy even was in position to break the school record is a story all by itself. In February 2017 during a meet at Liberty, she suffered a back injury — specifically a bulg- ing disk (i.e. an L5-S1 disk). "It was an injury that we first thought was a freak," assistant coach Mario Wilson said. "She landed wrong on a new pit. Initially she complained about back pain, which she never did. It became debilitating. "That's when we decided she shouldn't con- tinue with the season. She wondered if it was a situation where she should try to [continue vaulting] for the team. We felt even though her heart was in the right place it wasn't worth it." Ironically, her injury likely was the result of another sport she participated in during her high school career. In addition to pole vaulting, Guy also was a gymnast. "We came to the consensus that it was wear and tear because I was a gymnast in high school," Guy said. "It was a lot of rep- etition and pounding and weight lifting to the point where I started feeling pain in my legs." After the injury at Liberty, Guy wound up redshirting the indoor season and hoped to come back for the outdoor season. But after an MRI revealed the exact nature of the injury, she was relegated to six weeks of zero activity, which morphed into a 10-month process of recovering. No surgery was required, but the rehabilitation process proved to be grueling. "That was really hard," Guy said. "It hurt because I wanted to be out there with my teammates. But because of the state I was in I couldn't contribute much. I still tried to be really involved. I did what I could without doing my lower-body exercises. "My teammates and coach played a huge part [in the recovery]. That made it a little bit easier. We were trying to practice from a short approach, and because I couldn't do the full runway it was like, 'Why are we doing this?'" Good question considering Guy's speed on the runway is a major component in her technique. "Bridget is very fast for a pole vaulter," Wilson said. "She sprinted on a high school relay team that was a [Pennsylvania] state champion. "But being fast and being fast on the run- way are two different things." Guy is quick to attribute Wilson's work with her as a major reason why she's be- come one of the nation's premier pole vault- ers. At one time this season, she ranked second in the ACC and fourth nationally. "Coach Wilson taught me about what the pole vault is and really educated me on this is how you have to do it and hit these positions," she said. "When I came here he broke down my pole vault and taught me to run the right way. "What you do on the runway is very im- portant. Working on the run and how straight my arms are have been the two components to my vaulting higher than I was." That Guy wound up at Virginia instead of at a college in her home state is noteworthy, considering she was far from on the Cava- liers' radar screen while at Hempfield High in her hometown of Greensburg, Pa., which is about 35 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. "Bridget did most of the legwork with the recruiting process," Wilson said. "I was recruiting at a meet during the summer, and she tracked me down. I can't tell you how hard it was for a 16- to 17-year-old to go up to an adult and say 'I want you to recruit me.' "Initially I wasn't that impressed and didn't think her technique was that good. We were looking for someone who was more polished. But she kept calling. It wasn't until October of her senior year that we set up a visit." After that visit, Guy was able to con- vince Wilson and the UVA staff that she was worth the time and effort. "She wouldn't take no for an answer and said that she would be good," Wilson said. "She felt UVA fit her very well. "She exuded confidence and has not let me down one day." Guy paid immediate dividends, setting a school record in the women's outdoor pole vault by clearing 13-5¾. She went on to place fourth at the ACC Outdoor Champi- onships in both 2015 and 2016 before being sidelined by her back injury. When Guy was able to resume vaulting, Wilson had to make sure he exercised ex- treme caution during her training. "What I started to do was loosen the reigns," he said. "I've been more cautious with my ap- proach. Since the start of the outdoor season Bridget has exhibited consistency. "Your fear of putting her grip higher is less because you know she's going to do what she's going to do." BACK AND BETTER THAN EVER Pole Vaulter Bridget Guy Recovered From An Injury And Became An ACC Champion "Over the last four years, I've learned not to put any limitations on her ability." UVA ASSISTANT COACH MARIO WILSON ON GUY

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