By Blake Colston
Pole vaulter Kyla Davis’ list of accolades continues to grow, and this time the former Millerette has been honored for her stellar work in the classroom.
A two-time national champion at Pittsburg State as well as a two-time state champion at Yukon High School, Davis was recently named 2023 NCAA Division II Women’s Outdoor Track & Field National Scholar Field Athlete of the Year.
It marks the first time since 2019 that a female athlete from Pittsburg State has received the honor.
“This shows that I’m not here only for track,” Davis said. “For me, track is the fun part of college. As far as classes go, that’s my priority and I’m having fun.”
Davis, an interior design major who maintained a cumulative GPA of 3.92, placed first in the pole vault at the 2023 NCAA DII Outdoor Track & Field Championships, following an indoor championship during her freshman season.
“That first national title was a surprise,” Davis said. “Because I really had no clue where I stood. You can look at numbers, but you really have no idea.”
This spring, she captured the outdoor title in resounding fashion, besting Emporia State’s Megan McManis by almost a foot.
“It was mainly just confidence. I went in knowing exactly what I needed to do, so I was really relaxed,” Davis said of the key to her performance. “I always jump better when I have a certain level of confidence.”
Originally a gymnast, Davis switched to track and field full time in eighth grade. She picked pole vault because, “It looked really cool, and because I don’t like to run.”
That proved to be an excellent decision. By her junior season at YHS, Davis was a state champion for the first time. She repeated as a senior, breaking the Class 6A state record in the process.
Also a conference champ in the MIAA, Davis has, seemingly, accomplished every possible goal, but with two seasons of eligibility remaining, she continues to seek new challenges. Next on her list: clearing 14 feet, and, hopefully, more national championships.
“I really want that. I just need a little more consistency,” Davis said. “I got really close this last season. I think it’s just a matter of smoothing out some technicalities and getting a little stronger.”
— NCAA Division II (@NCAADII) May 27, 2023
Though pole vaulting certainly isn’t for everyone, Davis’ best piece of advice to anyone with a notion to try it out is to remain in control as much as possible, from start to finish.
“Once you’re halfway down that runway, there’s not much you can change,” she said. “There’s no room for any doubt or hesitation.”
In the final seconds before a vault attempt, Davis keeps her thoughts short and simple.
“Be strong and be powerful,” she reminds herself.
Davis said it’s possible that she could pursue her pole-vaulting career after college, but it’s more likely she’ll opt to get her career as a design artist underway. The soon-to-be-graduate of Pittsburg State hopes to design high-rise commercial and residential buildings, she said.
That should be natural fit. Reaching new heights is no problem for Davis.