Dye soars to great heights

June 21, 2003|by ANDREW MASON

If her postgraduate career is anything like her days at University of Maryland or Middletown High School, expect Natalie Dye to reach great heights at Stanford University.

Dye, who graduated from Middletown in 1999 and Maryland last month, is headed to Stanford in the fall to pursue a doctorate degree in biochemistry.

She may just grab a pole and vault herself there.

Last weekend, she tied for 15th in the women's pole vault at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Sacramento, Calif. Dye - the lone Terp to qualify for nationals - equaled her school record at 12 feet, 9 1/2 inches, but just missed making the finals, where Oregon senior Becky Holliday went 14-5 1/2 to win.


"I went in just very excited that I made it to nationals. That was a goal of mine for a long time," said Dye, who won three Maryland Class 2A state pole vault titles in high school. "But once I made 12-9 1/2, I wanted to go higher.

"At the qualifying round, I knew I had to jump 4 meters (13-1 1/2) to go to finals. I was shooting at the 13 mark all year, indoor and outdoor. I got close several times, but I didn't make it. It was disappointing, but I was just pleased to be there and I tied my record."

Dye earned her first trip to nationals by placing fourth at the NCAA East Regional meet in Fairfax, Va., on May 31. She was the runner-up at the Atlantic Coast Conference championships and placed third at the Penn Relays earlier in the spring.

Now she's ready to raise the bar academically.

"I'm finished with track, at least for now," she said. "I've decided to just focus on academics, because grad school is going to be pretty challenging. I don't completely rule out the idea of jumping again, but for now it's on the back burner."

Dye - the valedictorian of her senior class at Middletown - kept all the burners going at Maryland, graduating with a 3.98 grade point average. She was honored as a 2003 Verizon Academic All-American second-team member and, for the second-straight year, made the Verizon Academic All-District II First Team.

"It was special to be recognized for academics as well," she said, "because that's why we're there."

That's also why she's moving on to Stanford, to pursue a career in scientific research.

"I'm real excited to start grad school. That's my priority right now," she said. "I love pole vaulting, but I'm not going to pursue it as a career. If I were to do it again, it would be just for fun."

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