Sheppard and Carroll rewrite the Florida high school record books

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Nati Sheppard patiently waited her turn.  In 2012, as a freshman at Ransom Everglades School in Miami, Sheppard vaulted 9’6″.  Not bad for her initial season as a vaulter.  In 2013 she turned up the volume with a personal best of 11′  finishing second to Nikki Carroll at the 2A state meet in May. In 2014, Nati vaulted a personal best of 12′ only to finish runner up again to Carroll who vaulted a personal best at the state meet in the rain and later vaulted 12’6″ at the Golden South in May. Not to be deterred, Sheppard dedicated herself to become the best ever.  She knew it could require eclipsing the state record in order to become the state champion as Carroll would be back for her senior year as well, but she was up to the task.  At the Jimmy Carnes indoor meet at the University of Florida in January, it would be Carroll again victorious with a personal best and state indoor record of 13′ as Sheppard settled for second with a personal best of 12’6″.  “That was just the beginning of the season, it gave me something to work for” said Sheppard in reference to the indoor meet.  The next big meet  would be at the New Balance Indoor National Championships in New York City in March.  Between the indoor meet in Gainesville and the Indoor National Championships, Carroll upped her indoor state record with a PR of 13’1.5″ at the Millrose Games at the Armory in New York City on February 14.  Shortly thereafter  Sheppard upped her outdoor personal best to 13′ on March 7th in Miami.  At Indoor Nationals Nati and Nikki both finished with 12’8.75″ to finish 7th and 8th respectively, just out of the all-american finishers.  Sheppard and Carroll would then vault again at the Florida Relays on April 3rd with Nati winning at 12’6″ and Nikki placing 3rd at 11’6″.  This would be the last regular season meet competing together prior to the state meet.   Sheppard and Carroll are training partners at Pole Vault City so they would have the opportunity to train together many more times before the state meet.  On May 1st, 2015, Sheppard and Carroll would have one last opportunity to break the state meet record, 12’10”.  It would be Sheppard who would eclipse not only the state meet record but also the overall state record with a brilliant performance finishing with a new PR of 13’3″.  Carroll finished 2nd with a 12′ vault.  It was the 3rd year in a row that Nikki and Nati would sweep the state track meet, this time with the places being reversed.  The girls would vault again at the Golden South Classic on May 23rd.  Sheppard won the meet with a vault of 13′ and Carroll finished runner up with an outdoor PR of 12’6″.  The girls will compete again on June 20th at the New Balance Outdoor National Championships in Greensboro, NC at North Carolina A&T.  Never before in the history of Florida High School pole vaulting has there ever been such a dynamic duo as Nati Sheppard and Nikki Carroll.  It’s hard to describe the amount of training and hard work that both these athletes put into the gym to achieve these records.  Congratulations ladies on an outstanding and memorable high school career.

Author: Bobby Haeck

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