Erin Silva '15 vaulted to new heights this past Saturday, breaking both her personal record and the Bowdoin record.

The Polar Bears' top female pole vaulter tied the school record of 10' 11.75" in her first collegiate meet, and has since improved with every competition, winning the event in all three meets thus far. Silva jumped 11' 4.25" this past weekend at Wesleyan.

After finishing fourth in the 2011 New England high school championship, Silva arrived at Bowdoin with high expectations.

"Only a fraction of track and field athletes are competitive at the top championship level," coach Peter Slovenski said, "and Erin is one of them."

He said that she will likely be among the best vaulters in the conference, and said he hopes she can break the 12-foot mark.

Silva became involved with track and field as a sophomore in high school after a friend introduced her to the sport.

"I got really lucky and had an amazing high school coach," Silva said. "He ran a pole vault club during the summer which allowed me to practice year-round."

Since arriving at Bowdoin, Silva has benefited from the athletic resources of the College.

"She can use the field house every day here," said Slovenski, "and having a bigger budget for pole-vaulting poles has also helped her."

Though Silva left high school with very good fundamental training, she said she plans to continue working on accelerating into her plant rather than approaching it at a steady pace.

And like all athletes, Silva also must perfect her mental game.

"The biggest challenges with the pole vault are usually mental: being optimistic and not letting anything psych you out," she said.

The sports editor of the Orient chooses the Athlete of the Week based on exemplary performance.