Alumni Focus with Rochester Century Graduate Andy Jacobs


One of the most all-around accomplished athletes in Minnesota state history has to be Rochester Century graduate Andrianna Jacobs. Jacobs won four straight pole vault state titles for Class AA from 2013-16, was a 14x state qualifier for diving, T&F, and gymnastics, and is a former state record holder in the girl's pole vault and national record holder for the freshman girls' pole vault. 

We at MileSplit Minnesota recently caught up with the Rochester Century and Nebraska graduate to talk about track and field, her state titles, and college.


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Discuss the transition from high school competition to competing at the college level. What adjustments have you had to make in order to be as successful as possible?

I began competing in sports when I was five years old, so competing was always second nature to me. I honestly don't remember a time in my life when I wasn't competing. Personally, I always focused more on what I could do at each meet and competition and tried not to focus on my competitors around me. As long as I tried my hardest and did my best, I was happy with the outcome regardless of how I placed. I think that mindset made the transition from high school sports to college sports an easy one. However the biggest difference between the two was that in high school I competed in three sports; diving, gymnastics, and track and field (100 hurdles, 300 hurdles, 4X4, and pole vault), and in college I only competed in the pole vault. It was definitely strange to only compete in one sport, and while I certainly missed my other sports and events, I found I had a lot more energy to put toward pole vault. Sometimes in high school, I wouldn't start vaulting until after I ran both hurdles and the 4X4, so by just pole vaulting I was able to get in my groove a little better at meets.

Do you have any advice that you can offer an incoming freshman on how to best deal with the higher level of competition they'll encounter at the college level? Also, what tips can you provide regarding the balance between training commitments and academic demands?

The best advice I can give is to focus on what you can do and not get too caught up in the competition around you. I think the best thing an incoming freshman can do is build a strong relationship with their coach and trust their coach's expertise. I had absolutely amazing high school coaches across all my sports and an outstanding collegiate coach. T.J. Pierce was so incredibly knowledgeable and was the best possible collegiate coach for me. He tailored his coaching specifically to each athlete, and I trusted his guidance immensely. I would not have accomplished all I did without him and all my other coaches. 

School has always been very important to me as well. The best tips I can give are to try to get ahead on schoolwork early and learn to introduce yourself to professors. As student-athletes, we travel a lot and end up missing a lot of class. It's important to make personal connections with professors, and the earlier you can get work done, the less you have to stress about it. Also, it's okay to ask for help in regards to schoolwork. If I was confused I would ask for help. With all the help UNL gave me, I was able to graduate with a 4.0 GPA and be named UNL's 2021/2022 Female Student-Athlete of the Year. 

What were some of the highlights of your college career at Nebraska?

One of the major highlights of my college career at Nebraska was placing second at both the indoor and outdoor Big Ten Championships as a freshman. This was my first experience competing in the Big Ten and my coach, T.J. Pierce prepared me so well for both of these meets. I was really happy I could help my team as much as I did. 

Another highlight was being named as a captain my sophomore year. I always strived to do my best at practice and encourage those around me. It made me feel really good to know my coaches and teammates valued my encouragement and saw me as a leader on the team. 

Another highlight was coming back after breaking my arm a week before my first indoor meet my sophomore year and placing third at both the indoor and outdoor Big Ten Championships my junior year. I didn't know what to expect after breaking my arm and having to take a year off of competing, but I'm so happy I was able to compete at a high level again and help my team. 

Another highlight was coming back after Achilles surgery and carpel tunnel wrist problems and vaulting at a high level during my last year as a Husker. I was really happy that after all my injuries I was able to help my team again and qualify for the Western NCAA prelims one more time. 

Looking back to high school, what are some valuable lessons you learned there that made you into the person you are today?

One valuable lesson I learned is to always respect and treasure my coaches' advice. I had so many different coaches across all my sports, and they all genuinely wanted to help me succeed. They all went out of their way to help me, and that left a big impact on me. Through their support and guidance, I learned to value the opinions of others, I learned how to utilize constructive criticism, and I learned I also have a love for coaching. 

Another lesson I learned was to always set my goals high. I had the goal of winning state in all of my sports. I didn't accomplish this (I placed second at state in diving twice and third in gymnastics) and that is completely okay. I tried my absolute hardest and had so much fun while doing so. Setting my goals high, and accepting defeat helped shape me into the person I am today. 

Another valuable lesson I learned is to always be kind to my competitors. Even though I was competing against other athletes, I always genuinely wanted them to do their best as well. I made some lifelong friends with some of my competitors, and I treasure the kindness they showed me as well. 

You were a 4x state champion in the pole vault. What does that mean to you to win 4 state titles?

It means a lot to me to have achieved this. My high school coach, Ray Ashworth, and I put so much time and effort into pole vault that winning state four times was a perfect ending to my high school career. He is a truly amazing coach and always made pole vault so much fun for me. He and I learned so much about pole vault together, and he never hesitated to reach out to other coaches with questions on how to best coach me. I had no idea pole vaulting would take me so far and am thankful I got to finish what I started as a freshman. 

Related: All-Time MN Girls Pole Vault Marks

Does any one of your 4 titles stick out to you?

Each of my state titles was special to me, but my state title as a freshman and my state title as a senior stick out the most to me. 

When I was a freshman I was still relatively new to pole vault. My PR before the state meet was 12 feet 2 inches and at state, I PR'ed by 10 inches and vaulted 13 feet. My coach, Ray Ashworth, suggested I run from 14 steps instead of 12 steps and that I try a new pole that day. It all just added up and I made every bar on my first attempt, set the (then) freshman national record, the (then) state meet record, and qualified for junior nationals. I just remember having so much fun vaulting that day and that everything just clicked all at once. It was a truly magical day. 

When I was a senior, I had an accident three weeks before state. I suffered an inversion and eversion ankle sprain and had five small fractures in my foot as well. My coaches and parents knew, but I tried to keep it a secret from everyone else. On the day of state, I taped my ankle, put a brace on, taped over the brace, and wore a compression sock. We had to adapt my vaulting and take some risks, but with the smart thinking of my coach, I was able to vault 13 feet 3 inches to win state. No one forced me to vault when I was injured, but I really wanted to finish what I started with my coach, and am really grateful I was able to. 

What high school accomplishment were you most proud of?

The high school accomplishment I'm most proud of was competing in 14 state tournaments across my three sports. I put so much work into all my sports and had so many people who believed in me and supported me. I was really happy I could make them proud. 

Outside of running, what are you up to?

I am coaching gymnastics and spending as much time with my family as possible before I start my new job.