By Rob Kiser
AKRON —It may not be something she focused on — or expected this soon.
But, you can call former Covington state champion and sophomore on the University of Akron women’s track and field team Jackie Siefring an All-American.
The daughter of Vern and Carmen Siefring recently earned second team All-American honors by finishing 10th at the indoor nationals in the pentathlon at the NCAA Indoor Nationals in Birmingham, Ala.
“I wasn’t expecting this at all,” Siefring said. “Maybe in the outdoor season. I feel like I am better at the heptathlon because there are more events. What I accomplished are some of the goals I had to accomplish before I graduated.”
Siefring had a total score of 4,162 points.
She finished second in the 800, 2:12.60; ninth in the shot put, 40-2 1-4; 10th in the long jump, 19-2; 13th in the high jump, 5-5; and 15th in the 60-meter hurdles, 8.76.
“I would have loved to have been in the top eight (and been first team All-American),” Siefring said.
Her success can not really be described as a surprise after an impressive high school career.
Her senior year at Covington, she scored 26 points at the state meet.
She won the long jump and 300 hurdles and finished third in the 100 hurdles.
“I have always liked competing in different events,” Siefring said.
While her expectations may have been high going into her freshman year at Akron , it was a learning experience.
Still she put up amazing numbers for a freshman.
Siefring took second in the pentathlon at the indoor MAC meet with 3,796 points and won the Akron Pole Vault Convention.
During the outdoor season, she was an Academic All-America recipient.
She was an NCAA East Preliminary Round Qualifier, placing 33rd in the long jump and 34th in the 400-meter hurdles.
At the MAC meet, she finished second heptathlon with the third highest score in the event in program history with 5,377 points. She also had the second fastest time in the 400 hurdles in program history (59.22) in finishing third in the Longhorn Invitational.
She also won the 400-meter hurdles at the Campbell/Wright Invitational.
“It was a big adjustment in competition going from high school to college,” she said.
That set the tone for her indoor season this year.
“To be honest, I really didn’t think it was going to be possible to make it to nationals during the indoor season,” she said. “I feel like I am better at the heptathlon because the 60 meter hurdles is changed to the 100 hurdles and they add the 200 (dash) and javelin throw. I feel like with the more events, the better I do.
“But, then as the season was going along, I began thinking I could.”
She recorded the ninth best score in the nation at the MAC meet to earn the national berth.
Siefring earned that score of 4,215 by winning the 60-meter hurdles, long jump and 800, while taking second in the shot put and third in the high jump 5-5 1-4.
“That meet was a lot more fun than nationals,” Siefring, who was also on the 1,600 relay team that finished fifth, said. “You are all out there working towards a goal — the whole meet was a lot of fun. It was great to score 10 points for the team and help them do well.”
Akron turned in a second-place finish as a team at the women’s MAC meet.
Then it was time to go to nationals.
“It is kind of like the state meet in high school,” Siefring said. “The big thing is getting there. You are happy no matter what you do and this was my first shot.”
It was made more special by her fan support.
“My family was able to go out to Alabama and watch me,” she said. “Having my parents and brother there was pretty special. A lot of parents can’t do that. I had grandparents there and an aunt. I heard from a lot of people back home. It is great to know that they follow the Covington Alumni.”
Ironically, while the 800 was her highest finish at nationals — Siefring would never call that her favorite event.
“I don’t really like the 800 — I have had a lot of good coaching,” Siefring said about her success in that event. “Usually, whichever events I do well that day are my favorite.”
Siefring has big expectations for the outdoor season, which starts this weekend in Texas.
“I think it does (indoor nationals raises her expectations),” Siefring said. “The goal is to get back to nationals and finish in the top eight.”
As for being called an All-American, she doesn’t really worry or think much about that.
“I am just happy to be healthy and be able to compete,” she said. “I guess I am not really into status things like that (All-American).”
But, she has definitely earned the title — with even better things to come.