Yasmen Hazem is pictured during one of her pole vault competitions. The 19-time champion in Egypt has signed to compete at the University of Maine. Credit: Courtesy of UMaine athletics

In her home country, she’s a 19-time national champion pole vaulter.

Next spring, Egyptian Yasem Hazem plans to join the University of Maine women’s track and field team as a scholarship athlete.

Hazem must first negotiate COVID-19 restrictions and travel to the United States. If not, she hopes to come next fall, according to UMaine pole vault coach Dana Seekins.

She will participate in indoor and outdoor track and is expected to have two years of eligibility remaining, Seekins said.

“We’re pretty excited,” Seekins said. “She will be a great addition to our program. She’s a good fit.”

Seekins said Hazem reached out to UMaine about an opportunity. He and his predecessor, Gerhard Skall, liked her as a person in addition to what they saw of her pole vaulting on video.

“We were impressed and we also saw several places where there is an opportunity for improvement,” Seekins said. “She is very motivated.”

Seekins said one of the things coaches look for in recruits is the potential for improvement and Hazem has a real upside.

UMaine head track coach Mark Lech said Hazem has the credentials to finish in the top three in the America East championships and would have an outside shot to make the NCAAs.

Seekins said her career-best vault of 12 feet, 1.3 inches would have won the 2020 America East indoor track championship.

Mallory Prelewicz of Binghamton won it at 11-11 3/4.

Hazem is the Egyptian pole vault record-holder in the Under-20, Under-18 and Under-16 divisions and won the Arab Under-20 title in 2018. She claimed the African Games crown in 2018 and ’19 as an Under-20 competitor.

She competed in the national championships in Slovenia and Croatia and was second in the African championships a year ago.

Lech said Hazem will be the first Egyptian he has coached at UMaine.

“I don’t think we’ve had an athlete from the Middle East,” he said, adding that he is looking forward to having her in a Black Bear uniform.

Hazem has already been accepted into the school and met NCAA eligibility requirements. She intends to study mechanical engineering.

She is currently studying industrial engineering at the Canadian International College in Egypt.