By Steven Hoffman
Alyssa Sniechoski admits that the transition from being a distance runner to a pole vaulter was a challenging one at times, but she has worked hard to develop into one of the area’s top competitors in the event.
The Oxford Area High School senior is about to finish up a stellar high school career that has included many accolades as a pole vaulter. She finished in the top ten in states in 2013. As a sophomore, she won the Ches-Mont League Championships in the event. Last year, Sniechoski placed fourth in districts. She turned in jumps of 11 feet twice in her junior season and two more times in her senior season.
Sniechoski said that Spencer Beinfohr, one of Oxford’s track coaches, recruited her to be one of the team’s pole vaulters. Her all-around athleticism—she runs winter track and cross country, too—helped her to quickly reach impressive heights as a pole vaulter.
“It takes a lot of patience, athleticism, speed, and upper body strength,” explained Sniechoski. She credits Beinfohr with helping her develop into a good pole vaulter.
“Oxford is known for pole vaulting,” she said. “He’s been sending people to districts and states for years.” This track season, Sniechoski was one of five Hornets to earn a trip to districts. Two were pole vaulters—Bailee Hilaman also earned the honor.
Sniechoski said that she has worked hard at improving her technique. Proper technique is vitally important when you’re trying to soar an inch or two higher than your previous best effort.
“I’m very competitive,” she said. “I like to get better and work hard for it. Speed is also a big aspect of pole vaulting and I have a fast take off.”
In addition to being a standout on the spring track team, Sniechoski is a leader on the cross country squad. In her senior year, the cross country team had a strong showing, winning at the Fair Hill and Coatesville invitationals.
In cross country, it takes a lot of hard work and practice to trim even a few seconds off a time—similar to how it takes so much effort to make small gains in pole vaulting.
“I liked running cross country a lot,” Sniechoski explained, “but it took awhile for me to love it. It’s such a mental sport. It takes a lot to get better.”
She also competed in swimming during her freshman and sophomore years, earning honors as the squad’s most improved swimmer, but she eventually decided to focus on winter track events.
Sniechoski said that, regardless of what sport she was participating in, she benefitted from excellent coaching at Oxford.
“I loved all the coaches so much,” she said. “Everyone wants to do well for them because they are so supportive.”
In addition to being an outstanding athlete, Sniechoski is a top student, too. She’s a National Honor Society member, the secretary of the Student Renaissance Committee, a member of the LEOs Club, and the vice president of the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA). She reached states in the FBLA competition in her sophomore, junior, and senior years. This year, she teamed with Hannah Commiskey and Chris Chavez for a project that won third place in the American Enterprise Project contest. The project qualified the team for the FBLA National Leadership Conference in Nashville, Tennessee on June 26 and 27.
With sports and all the other school activities, Sniechoski doesn’t have a lot of free time, but when she does she likes to run, work out, and play the piano.
In the fall, Sniechoski will be participating in track at the Division 1 level at St. Francis University, where she was accepted into the five-year occupational therapy program.