Emily Gale, Cristina Valdes, and Amanda Rigdon Triumph In Weekend Finale

High stakes drama filled the air on Saturday morning when both Emily Gale and Cristina Valdes watched Erica Sargent, a sensational freshman vaulter from Lake Mary, clear 11’6″ on her first attempt.  Not to be outdone, Emily cleared the bar on her second attempt and Cristina made the bar on her third attempt to keep the competition alive.  At 12′, a height none of the three girls had cleared before, Emily came down the runway to clear the height on her second attempt followed by Cristina making on her third.  As the dust cleared and the girls took the awards stand, it was Emily and Cristina, training partners at Pole Vault City, that stood atop the podium, side by side, as state champion and runner up.  This marked two of the biggest turnarounds in Pole Vault City history.  Cristina, from Hagerty High School, had a personal best of 7’6″ in 2010 and Emily, of Cypress Bay High School, had a personal best of 8’6″ in 2010.  Brittany Todaro of Nova High School and Catrina Mancini of Douglas High School finished tied for 4th with each of them clearing 10’6″

Earlier in the day, Amanda Rigdon of Jefferson Middle School in Merritt island solely represented Pole Vault City at the Middle School State Championships.  Amanda scored a personal best of  9’6″ on her first attempt to win the championship outright.  Amanda will represent Merritt Island High School as a freshman next year.

In the boys 4A competition, Matt Burroughs, Tyler Burrows, and Taylor Gunderson finished on the awards stand in 4th, 5th, and 5th places respectively.  Matt, from John I Leonard vaulted a foot higher than his previous personal best to lead the medal brigade.  Tyler tied his personal best of 14′ and Taylor increased his personal best by 6″ to round out the awards stand.  Chris Shevlin of Western High School vaulted 13’6″ to finish in the 8th medal spot.  JT Evans and Rudy Magasrevy also vaulted very well jumping 13′, just off the awards stand.

In the 3A girls competition on Friday afternoon, Brook Saurbier of Barron Collier finished 2nd place with a PR tying vault of 11′, narrowly missing the state championship.  Jessica Stavrakas of Merritt Island achieved a personal best of 9’6″ to find the podium in 7th place in her first season of pole vaulting.  Samantha Olson, a freshman from Merritt Island High School, fought through an ankle injury to tie her personal best of 9’6″ narrowly missing the podium.

In the 3A boys competition on Friday evening, Josh (J-Mac) McDaniel of Lakeland High School set a new PR of 14’3″ to finish in the runner up spot.  Shelton McLean, son of Lake County vaulting legend Jeff McLean, vaulted 9″ higher to finish with 13’3″ also narrowly missing the awards stand in 9th place.  As a side note, Shelton bested his father’s high school personal best of 12’6″ which he set in 1975 at Clermont High School.  Both Josh and Shelton will return next year to lead the 2012 Pole Vault City charge.

Congratulations to all the participants and award winners this past weekend.  Keep up the great work.

Author: Bobby Haeck

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