Buffington attempting to vault to her fourth title

Peter Levine

Three marks the number of Patriot League championships senior pole vaulter Elise Buffinton has won in her Lafayette career.

The engineering major won both the indoor and outdoor Patriot League championships in her junior season and then followed it with an indoor championship at Bucknell in her hometown of Lewisburg, Pa. Her jump of 3.95m (about 13 feet) set both a new personal record and broke her existing school record in women’s pole vaulting.

Needless to say, Buffinton considers the event to be her favorite in her stellar four-year career as a Leopard.

The success doesn’t simply come naturally to Buffinton. Her coach, Michele Curcio, describes Elise as “your typical engineer who is very meticulous about her training and technical work for the pole vault.”

Buffinton leads the team by example with co-captain and roommate Rose Willey ‘14, according to Curcio, by treating her body well, recovering between meets, and showing up to practice on time prepared and ready to improve.

“She does very well in the classroom, gets the rest and recovery needed to compete at a high level every weekend, and has served as a great mentor to the first year women and men in the vault group,” Curcio said.

The results have shown. Buffinton used to average around 11 feet per jump her senior year of high school. Now, four years later, in her senior year of college, Buffinton’s average jump ranges from 12’2” to 12’9”. Most pole vaulters can go from breaking personal records one week to not being able to clear any heights the next week. Buffinton, on the contrary, is noted for her consistency in clearing respectable heights.

She credits guru pole vaulting coach Kurt Dunn for mentoring her to these successes. Buffinton explains, “He knows everything there is to know about pole vaulting and has helped me improve a lot since coming on during my sophomore year. Each year, we’ve built on the skills from the previous year and learned what kind of workouts and training help me perform to the best that I can.”

Dunn, a national champion pole vaulter at Alfred State University in New York vaulted to heights of 17’5” in college.

One of Buffinton’s primary strengths is her mental preparation for her meets. She doesn’t let her mind fear that she is in her senior season, with only limited attempts left at setting personal and team goals. Instead, she clears her head and focuses for the two to three hours that she may be sitting around waiting for her name to be called at any given meet.

Buffinton’s goal for herself is the same as Curcio’s: for Elise to repeat as outdoor Patriot League champion. She has the opportunity to culminate her collegiate career with a conference title when Lafayette travels to Annapolis, Md. on May 2.