Wausau Athletes Commit to Programs

Wausau Athletes Commit to Programs
Posted on 04/13/2018

Bright signing

Wausau West's Olivia Bright, right, reacts after signing a national letter of intent with the Concordia University (St. Paul) women's track team Wednesday as Wausau West girls coach John Masanz applauds.

Haight signing

Wausau East senior Mariah Haight, center, smiles after signing a national letter of intent with Augustana University on Wednesday.

Tim Johnson
Wausau Daily Herald
USA TODAY NETWORK – WISCONSIN

WAUSAU – Olivia Bright has had a notable week.

On Tuesday afternoon, she set a Wausau West girls program record as she cleared 11 feet in the pole vault during the Wisconsin Valley Conference indoor meet at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

On Wednesday morning, she signed a national letter of intent with Concordia University (St. Paul) women’s track and field team in a short ceremony at the high school.

"It’s a smaller school but in a bigger city," said Bright, who has competed in the WIAA state track meet in each of the past two years. "I like the idea of being on a team that really values the family aspect of it. When I toured (the campus) I got the chance to meet a lot of the teammates, and it seemed like the perfect fit."

Bright was one of two Wausau-area athletes to make a commitment to a Division II program official Wednesday, the first day of the college spring signing period. Wausau East distance runner Mariah Haight also signed with the Augustana University women’s cross-country and track programs.

Haight had considered the Naval Academy and gone through the application process and received a congressional nomination. But a visit to

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Athletes

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the Sioux Falls, South Dakota, campus earlier this school year, sold her on the Vikings program.

"Once I went there, I fell in love with the team. (The decision) was over then," said Haight, who qualified for the WIAA state cross country meet in both her junior and senior seasons. "I told my mom that hanging out with them it was like we had been teammates for years."

Haight, who plans to study biochemistry at Augustana, ran cross country as a seventh and eighth grader but didn’t really enjoy the sport and switched to tennis as a freshman. She went back to cross country as a sophomore and began a run of success which resulted in her commitment to Augustana. Haight set a personal-best mark with a time of 12 minutes, 9 seconds in the girls 3,200 meters during the WVC indoor meet Tuesday.

"If you would have told me in middle school that I would be signing to run cross country in college, I would have just laughed in your face," Haight said. "I never thought this would happen, but later in my junior year I thought that maybe it might be a possibility."

Bright, plans to ultimately attend law school and started vaulting in seventh grade. She tied the previous West mark in the pole vault of 10 feet, 9 inches during a WIAA Division 1 sectional meet last spring. Her goal is to clear 12 feet by the end of the season.

"What she has achieved over the years is a testament to the work she puts in over the offseason," West girls coach John Masanz said of Bright. "What she has accomplished is not by accident. She is not afraid to put in the extra time in the weight room and getting her running in. She also makes trips to the east side of the state to work with some coaches (in the vault) as well."

PHOTOS BY TIM JOHNSON/USA TODAY NETWORK-WISCONSIN