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Current sophomore Kai Eisenhardt competes in pole vault at the Big 5 meet last season.

Credit: Samantha Turner

A big part of Penn women’s track and field's Kai Eisenhardt’s routine at the beginning of every story is setting high goals and dreaming big. 

As outdoor track and field season gets underway, the sophomore pole vaulter is excited to return to form at Franklin Field, pursue those big goals, and complete in a full indoor-outdoor season for the Quakers after an injury last winter cut her season short. 

A specific goal Eisenhardt has in mind is to clear 13 feet, and the Montverde, Fla. native is keeping it simple with how to get there. 

“I'm always going after that elusive 13-foot mark," she said. "I know that I have a couple more PRs left in me this season, so that's the goal too. We put in a lot of hours focusing on technique and conditioning. Just keeping up with that is the plan.” 

In addition to achieving her goals, Eisenhardt is looking forward to big meets — like the Penn Relays — not just because of the star athletes joining her on the field, but also since her family will be in the crowd. 

“Even though I grew up in Florida, my family roots are in Philadelphia," Eisenhardt expressed. "[My family] definitely comes out and supports me and the team. I remember on my recruiting trip with my coach, we were at Franklin Field, and I pointed to the stands and was like 'my family will be right there.' That's an added bonus to this whole opportunity being here at Penn. Now, with [my immediate family] having moved to New Jersey, even more of my family members get to come and watch. It's just awesome.” 

Throughout her whole athletic career — which started in gymnastics before she began dabbling in pole vaulting — Eisenhardt’s greatest strength has always been reaching for the moon and dreaming big. Using affirmations and manifestation to aid in accomplishing those goals is what she thinks sets successful athletes apart. 

“Honestly, I truly believe that setting lofty goals for yourself, being willing to go for them, and believing that it is possible to reach these big goals is how anyone succeeds," Eisenhardt said. "You sometimes have to take a step back sometimes and realize how honored and grateful we are to be able to compete and be a student here.”

It may be a seem like a basic idea, but it continues to fuel Eisenhardt’s successes in her pole vaulting career. Recently, she recorded a first-place finish at the 2023 Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational. A couple of weeks later at the Ivy League Heptagonal Indoor Track & Field Championships, she cleared 12' 6.25" to set a personal best — inching her closer and closer to her 13-foot dreams.

“I think any athlete should know that dreaming big and working towards those goals really does work. That's what I did, and it helped me get here. It's what I'll keep doing and hopefully, it’s what will help me eventually succeed in veterinarian school too.”