BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Gov. Livingston senior Lauren Saifi signed to continue to compete in pole vault at the college level last month during a signing day ceremony held at the school flanked by family, coaches, teammates and friends.
Saifi signed with Monmouth University, which is a NCAA Division 1 program and competes in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, where she could compete against her sister Leah Saifi, who was state champion in pole vault and competes for Northeastern University. The Monmouth Hawks women's track and field team recently won the MAAC Winter Track Championship, their fifth straight.
Saifi vaulted a personal best 12-00' at the indoor Meet of Champions that earned her a fourth place finish. She placed second at the NJSIAA North 2 Group 2 Sectionals and third at the NJSIAA North 2 Regional Championships.
She peaked at the right time, said Gov. Livingston head track and field coach Dan Guyton. "Her form was improving all the way to the end. She had her best performance at the Meet of Champions where she jumped 12-00 for the first time and is fourth in the state." She had been close to that mark and she finally put it all together.
Guyton explained that due to Saifi's athleticism and strength, the sky's her limit, literally. "The pole has a lot to do with it," said Guyton. "With her strength and athleticism, she is going to be able to get on bigger poles. We are excited for spring season and waiting for it to warm up so we can actually get outside."
Saifi has spent most of her high school career side by side with sister Leah, who graduated in 2017. Together, they garnered back to back Union County and NJSIAA Group 2 Pole Vault Relay Championships. They set a new Group 2 record and tied the All Group relay record with a combined jump of 23 feet.
Saifi got involved in Track and Field because of her sister Leah. Saifi, a former gymnast, began Track and Field her sophomore year after watching Leah compete in pole vault. "The relays were always fun because it was always the two of us," said Saifi. Now, without her sister by her side, she has focused on her personal goals, qualifying for the Nationals Emerging Elite level in the winter [qualifying height of 11-07]. She is striving to qualify for the Championships with a qualifying height of 12-04. Her ultimate goal is to clear 12-06.
She knows that training and working on form is a necessity. "If I fix my form and do basics and drills, I can reach that [goal]," said Saifi. "I have always had problems inverting all the way, and Leah has given me tips on how to do it."
"She is on track, whatever she is doing," said Gov. Livingston pole vault coach Greg Dunkerton. “She just needs to keep working that hard and focusing on all of the details. She's going to find that everybody is pretty good at the next level. She can't rely solely on athleticism and will need to continue to concentrate and focus on the details, and that will help her excel."
Saifi knew she always wanted to compete at the collegiate level and chose Monmouth University a few weeks prior to the signing. After meeting the Monmouth coach and going on an overnight at the school, "I got really good vibes there and felt it was the right place for me," said Saifi. "Monmouth was the perfect distance [from her home in Mountainside] and has the major [she wants to pursue] with a good track team with a lot of pole vaulters," said Saifi.
Saifi plans to major in Health Studies.