Maggie Vaults Over the Moon

Inspired by Maggie Steele, Pole-Vaulter Kristen Harris Soars to Record Heights for Tabor College

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Kristen vaults for Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kan., which competes in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference.

Maggie Vaults Over the Moon is a source of inspiration for Kristen Harris, a small-town Kansan who soared to record heights this past season as a pole-vaulter at Tabor College.

Kristen’s accomplishments mirror her favorite fictional pole-vaulter Maggie Steele, a gutsy farm girl from fictional Grain Valley, Kan., who soars to new heights as a pole-vaulter.

“Reading Maggie before the track season gave me the inspiration and drive to compete for God’s glory,” Kristen said. “The book really captures the emotion and thrill of pole-vaulting and I was blessed to feel the way Maggie felt in real life.”

Kristen’s “Maggie Moment” happened at the recent KCAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships. With the crowd cheering, she stood on the runway, preparing to attempt a new school and KCAC record of 11 feet.

Tabor College Vaulter Kristen Harris On the Runway Runway

“Counting my steps on the runway and clearing the height, I felt like I’d soared over the moon!” – Kristen Harris.

“I had to take a deep breath to calm myself from the excitement and I was thanking God for the ability to pole vault,” she recalled. “I even heard the track announcer over the loudspeaker, saying that if I cleared this height it would be a meet record.

“Counting down my steps on the runway, planting the pole, and clearing the height, I felt just like Maggie. Like I’d soared over the moon!”

Hard-working Kristen chalks-up for another vault at Tailwind.

Hard-working Kristen chalks-up for another vault at Tailwind.

Kristen was a successful runner and jumper at Chapman (Kan.) High School, a small Kansas town (Pop. 1,400) much like the fictional Grain Valley, where the story is set. She signed a track scholarship to compete for Cloud Community College in Concordia, Kan., where her father, John, holds the indoor pole vault record at 15-6.

Knowing her pedigree, Cloud Coach Ted Schmitz sent Kristen to the Tailwind Pole Vault Club, located in Jamestown, about 10 miles west of Concordia. Tailwind is owned by Dr. Mark Breault (Doc Bro). Maggie Vaults Over the Moon is dedicated to the vaulters at Tailwind.

Kristen With Tailwind Vaulters

The Tailwind Pole Vault Club, coached by Mark Breault, opened Kristen’s eyes to the world of pole-vaulting.

Entering the Tailwind facility was a life-changing moment for Kristen, whose eyes were opened to the world of pole-vaulting. She quickly rose to new heights, improving to 10-6 in two seasons, and placing 10th at the NJCAA Track and Field Indoor Championships.

Like Maggie, Kristen is a very determined and hard-working pole-vaulter. Her lifetime personal best vault of 11-3 came after vaulting late into the night at Tailwind. “Mark let me jump until I finally made the height, after 11 o’clock,” she recalled. “He has a deep passion for the pole vault.”

Kristen confers with Tabor Coach Dave Kroeker, who in addition to sharing his own knowledge, encourages her to train at  Tailwind.

Inspired by her success this past season, Kristen is making plans to soar even higher in her final year of competition. Her goals are to win the KCAC pole-vault, qualify for the KCAC National Championships, and help her team on the track as a sprinter and hurdler.

She also plans to complete her lofty quest in the classroom — to graduate with honors and gain admission to Optometry school.

“Maggie faced many hardships, and mine don’t compare to hers,” Kristen says. But Maggie author Grant Overstake is rightly impressed that she is able to pursue a chemistry major while being a full-time college athlete, which demands her highest and best all of the time.

“I’m delighted that someone with Kristen’s talent, drive and character was inspired by a story about a character who is, in so many ways, just like her,” Overstake adds. “I expect to see her soon, over the moon.”

Maggie Vaults Over the Moon is an inspiring read for fourth graders to adults. From now through August, the author will make a donation to the Kansas High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) Sports Hall of Fame for each copy sold at the Watermark store, located at Douglas and Oliver in Wichita, or via the Watermark website.

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