Team Player: Monika Jakutyte
For Monika Jakutyte, raising the bar is a way of life — literally. Growing up in a track-and-field family, the Lithuanian-born senior has the high jump in her genes.
“My dad was a seven-foot-one-inch high-jumper in college, and my mom was a track-and-field coach in Lithuania since she was eighteen,” explains Jakutyte. “I grew up on the track surrounded by the girls my mom used to train.”
Following her family’s move to the United States, Jakutyte officially started training to be a high-jumper for her middle school’s track-and-field team. Eleven years later, she has become an expert at maintaining the delicate balance between being a college student and a Big Ten athlete.
Drawn to UW–Madison for its exceptional academic reputation and atmosphere, Jakutyte knew she wanted to be a Badger after meeting with assistant coach Nate Davis.
“My mom coached me all my life, [and] it was really important for me to find a good coach I could trust as much as I trust my mom,” says Jakutyte. “Nate was that person, and from the first visit, I knew I wanted to be a part of the team at the UW.”
Jakutyte is no stranger to hard work, and her dedication to the sport has paid off, winning her the 2011 Big Ten high-jump title and second-team All-American honors.
“I’m currently focused on doing everything I can to jump high this year and pursue my dream of jumping 1.88 [meters] and higher,” she says.
After jumping 1.83 meters (six feet) to win her event at the 2012 Frank Sevigne Husker Invitational, her dream is not far off. And if Jakutyte meets that goal before the end of the 2012 season, she’ll aim even higher. She will continue to train after graduation to try to reach 1.95 meters (about six feet, four inches), the Olympic “A” qualifying standard.
“I’m passionate about high jump, and I don’t want to end my career just yet,” she says. “I have all my life to work and only so many years to perfect the talent that I have.”
Published in the Summer 2012 issue