Archive for Thursday, April 13, 2006

The mark to make

A trio of girls pole vaulters are chasing the school record

April 13, 2006

The problem with breaking the De Soto girls pole vault record -- stuck at eight feet since 2000 -- seemed to be six inches.

Two Wildcats tied the eight-foot mark in the last two weeks. No Cat has ever been able to one-up the record, however, always failing while attempting to clear 8-6.

One has to credit Brianna Cooper for a creative solution to the problem.

Having twice cleared the mark in a meet, Cooper did so again in Tuesday's junior varsity track meet in Mill Valley. In fact, she was the only competitor that did, and that worked very much to her advantage.

Rather than attempt to clear the typically mandated next step up, 8-6, Cooper could choose her height as she was the only competitor remaining.

She chose 8-1, and the Wildcats have a new record holder.

"It was a good jump," vault coach Peter Harley said after the meet. "She probably would have cleared 8-5 with it."

But Harley cautioned against anyone ordering T-shirts or a commemorative plaque for the occasion. Cooper is but one of three vaulters that has led an outright assault on the mark.

Cooper is joined by Michelle Faircloth and Cheyenne Williams and together the three could pose danger to more than a dusty old record.

"It's cool to see three girls that can tie or break that record," McAfee said. "It's good to have those girls who can be getting us points where maybe we haven't in the past. Now we have two or three girls who can score points."

The De Soto girls track team continued its stellar early season performance, finishing third in Thursday's Mill Valley Invitational with 100 points. The Cats were just eight points behind Olathe Northwest and 15 in back of Shawnee Mission West.

De Soto finished ahead of rival Mill Valley, which had 92 points, and Frontier League foe Ottawa, which finished with 69 points.

While the Cats scored from a number of different events, pole vault has begun to yield important points. De Soto grabbed 15 key points Thursday in the event.

If Cooper's the record holder, Faircloth is the sore-luck loser of the bunch. She came

within a gust of wind and perhaps a finger or a few strands of hair from clearing 8-6 outright.

Four vaulters cleared 8-0, but only Faircloth approached 8-6. In fact, she appeared to clear the bar on her second jump. A strong wind blew all afternoon Thursday, so determining when a competitor knocked the bar off and when a gust of wind blew the bar off became as tedious and controversial as Florida's hanging chads that decided the 2000 presidential election.

The bar fell as Faircloth flew over, but the event manager at first ruled her attempt good. The call was reversed, however, and even though the attempt wasn't counted against Faircloth's three, she could come so close again.

Elsewhere, Jackie Goleman continued her dominance of all things hurdles, winning the 100-meter hurdles and finishing third in the 300 low hurdles.

Trish Roberts was second in the 1,600, recording a time of 5 minutes, 59.09 seconds, and Miranda Gilmore turned heads with a fourth-place finish in the 100-meter dash.

The distance runners again ruled the boys competition. Adam Justice won the 1,600, but was edged in the 800. Chris Dvorak used the best 3,200 of his career to win that race, finishing in 10:46, just a second ahead of a hard-charging Shawnee Mission West runner.

"It's not so much that I'm proud that he won, it's that I'm proud of the way he won," McAfee said of Dvorak. "In the third lap he just said 'I'm going to go out and win this,' and that's something he normally wouldn't do."

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