Photos by Hillary Ehlen
Detroit Lakes, Minnesota
B.S. in Aeronautics with a Major in Commercial Aviation – Helicopter Focus
Outdoor: *4.06m, 13’ 3.75” – Pacific Beach Intercollegiate (April 2017)
Indoor: *4.01m, 13’ 1.75” – SDSU Indoor Classic (February 2018)
*North Dakota Women’s Track & Field Records
Jessica Clausnitzer’s outdoor pole-vaulting record didn’t stand a chance. For eight years, it had survived challenges from the best North Dakota vaulters. But that was before Kyley Foster stepped foot on campus.
The Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, native always knew she wanted to fly. All it took was a trip to Grand Forks and a few interactions with her future teammates. Then she sat in a helicopter, and she was hooked.
Foster is a commercial helicopter major. She wants to fly choppers for a living. This spring, she’s wrapping up her commercial rating and, technically, will be a pro by this summer. But she’s going beyond that. She wants to teach people to fly, so her instructor certification is the next bar she has to leap over. It’s also a good way to collect flight hours so she can go into the field of helicopter aviation quicker. Maybe she’ll be saving lives working at a hospital or give helicopter tours over the lakes in Minnesota. She still has time to figure out her future in aviation.
Today, she’s just trying to PR (personal record) and collect points for the North Dakota women’s track team. That’s exactly what happened her freshman year at the Big Sky Indoor Track and Field Championships in 2016. After hitting her personal record twice throughout the season, she was a quarter of an inch away from breaking 12 feet. She hit that mark and then some at the conference meet, soaring to a height of 12 feet, 6 and a quarter inch and placed third in the meet. She earned all-conference and was three inches away from the indoor school record.
The following meet, her first of the outdoor season, is when she made the most noise. The track team was in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for the Coastal Carolina Invitational. Foster elevated herself to a height of 12 feet, 6 and a quarter inch again. This time, she had broken an eight-year outdoor record held by Clausnitzer.
“I just try to PR every meet. It’s as simple as that.” – Kyley Foster
As a freshman, Foster’s name was all over the record books.
Last winter, she shattered the indoor record as a sophomore and was the first North Dakota women’s vaulter to go over 13 feet. She blazed another trail for North Dakota track athletes when she became the first vaulter in the Division I era to qualify for outdoor regionals.
“I’m pretty sure no one knew where I was from,” laughs Foster, now nine months removed from the experience. “None of the other vaulters knew where I was from because our stuff has the Fighting Hawk on it. We don’t really have ‘North Dakota’ on the front. So I actually did have a lot of questions about where I was from. That was a great experience, great competition and another one of those goals for this year, too.”
Foster continues to raise the bar this season. The junior broke her indoor record again in South Dakota and is focused on her third outdoor season that’s just around the corner. So what could possibly be next for Foster?
“The same goal since I got here,” said Foster. “I just try to PR every meet. It’s as simple as that.”
Foster did not PR in the 2018 Big Sky Indoor Championship meet and finished the competition in third place. She’ll have another opportunity to prove what she can do this outdoor season and return to the national meet, where the other athletes are sure to remember where the vaulter donning Fighting Hawks gear is from.
2017, NCAA West Preliminary qualifier
UND Women’s Pole Vault Record-Holder
Two-time Big Sky Indoor All-Conference
2017, USTFCCCA All-Academic honors
2017, Big Sky Conference Spring All-Academic Team
2016, Big Sky Winter All-Academic Team
2016, UND’s Female Rookie of the Year Award Finalist
Four-time state qualifier in Minnesota
Six-year letter winner in high school