Tech inks No. 1 pole vaulter in the nation for 2017

BLACKSBURG – The Virginia Tech track and field and cross country director Dave Cianelli announced Monday that Rachel Baxter (Anaheim Hills, California) has signed a National Letter of Intent to join the Hokies for the 2017-18 season.

“We are very excited to have Rachel join the squad,” said pole vault coach Bob Phillips. “She had a great visit, and we kept our fingers crossed that we could get her signed. She is already a world-class vaulter in the U-20 age group, and she has the strength and speed to continue jumping higher and have a big impact at the NCAA level and beyond. She is soft spoken, but a fierce competitor with a great work ethic. I’m really looking forward to working with her to accomplish her goals and the goals of our team.”

Baxter hails from Anaheim Hills, California, where she competed at Canyon High under the direction of coach BJ Vandrovec. Following the 2016 season, Baxter ranked No. 1 nationally and No. 4 all-time on the United States list for high school athletes. Daughter of Tony and Sandy Baxter, she also was most recently ranked as a No. 1 All-American in the pole vault event by Track and Field News.

Baxter also was named the 2016 California state champion and holds a personal-best mark of 14 feet, 3 inches (4.34 meters), a California state record. The senior will compete in her final indoor and outdoor season, as she looks to defend her state title before making the coast-to-coast trip to Blacksburg.

Most recently, Baxter won the U.S. Junior Championships, earning herself a spot at the 2016 World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland. It was the second year in a row that she made an international team. Baxter also qualified for the 2015 World Youth Championships for Team USA, claiming a silver medal at the event.

“When I visited Virginia Tech, I didn’t really know what to expect, but it felt like home from the moment I stepped on campus,” Baxter said. “On my official visit, all the coaches and student-athletes were so nice and friendly to me. They made me feel welcomed. I felt like I could thrive here and accomplish my goals, academically and athletically. I can’t wait to become a part of the Hokie family.”

The Hokies will open their 2017 indoor season at home with the Virginia Tech Invitational from Jan. 13-14, held at the Rector Fieldhouse, in Blacksburg.

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