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2015 Today’s Top 10: Kristen Hixson

Hixson has always followed in her brother’s footsteps, but her success is her own

Kristen Hixson’s brother, Nick, wrestled, so she wrestled. Nick played football, so she became a cheerleader on the sidelines. Nick was a pole vaulter, so she became one, too. He pursued a pro football career; now, she’s trying to become a pro pole vaulter. And that dream could soon be reality – she won three Division II pole vaulting national championships in her time at Grand Valley State University, after all.

Hixson picked up a pole at her first track practice in seventh grade after watching her brother compete as a freshman in high school. He didn’t stick with it long, but Hixson set out to beat his best height. She soon was able to clear it with ease.

“He knew it was coming, but he was supportive,” she said. “We’ve always been competitive but have always supported each other.”

After Hixson surpassed her brother’s pole vault record, she set her sights higher. During her senior year of high school, she won the state championship. Only a few Division I schools recruited her and she landed at Division II Grand Valley State. Years later, she was one of the best college pole vaulters in the country, regardless of division.

Her brother had also chosen a Division II school – Hillsdale College – but, this time, Hixson emulated him only coincidently.

“I wanted to go to a school where I knew I could improve and grow. … I wanted to get better,” Hixson said. “It was the right decision, and I’ve never once doubted that. I am so proud and blessed to be a Grand Valley alum and am so appreciative of the continuous support the administration and university have given me. They believed in me more than I did in myself sometimes.”

That support remains strong after graduation; Hixson continues to train at the university with her college coach. While following in her brother’s footsteps always led Hixson down the right path, she is now sprinting ahead on her own, hoping to clear the highest bar she can.