April 22, 2011

High School Track and Field: Still young sport, but girls' pole vault soaring

As the numbers improve, the heights improve as more and more girls are willing to give defying gravity a try.

By Rachel Lenzi rlenzi@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

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Nevada Horne of Falmouth saw pole vaulting and decided it looked like a cool sport. It is, and other high school girls have been giving it a try.

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Slovenski attributes the growth in girls' pole vaulting to an absence of another sport - gymnastics.

"There's a lot of interest in gymnastics among girls who are coming up from middle schools and elementary schools, and when they reach high school a lot of gymnastics programs become less accessible," Slovenski said. "The pole vault has attracted girls with a background in gymnastics. And the pole vault has drawn a lot of outstanding girls' athletes to track."

The Maine Principals' Association sanctioned girls' pole vaulting for outdoor track to start the 1996 season and while no one can pin down exact participation numbers in the event, the marks (heights) have improved.

In 1996, its first year as a sanctioned event, Amy McLaughlin of Mt. Blue won the Class A girls' title with a mark of 8 feet, 6 inches. Three years later (1999), Sara Smith of Winslow tied the state record of 9-6 to win the Class B title.

In 2002, Chantelle Haggerty of Hermon became the first female pole vaulter in the state to clear 11 feet in indoor competition.

In 2006, Bethany Dumas of Cony set a state record in the outdoor girls' pole vault when she cleared 11 feet, 6 inches at the Class A championships.

"It's gotten more competitive since I've been doing it," Webster said.

"There's definitely a lot more younger girls doing it now, and doing it better, and who are placing higher and clearing higher heights."

Staff Writer Rachel Lenzi can be reached at 791-6415 or at:



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