COLUMBUS — All season, three names were consistently among Medina County’s leaders in the pole vault.
Medina’s Alex Wasik, Black River’s Becca Herte and Cloverleaf’s Jennifer Foster all broke school records and tried to one-up each other for area bragging rights in the event.
Wasik and Herte walked away with state championships Saturday in Division I and D-II, respectively, while Foster finished second in D-I.
For Wasik, it was only fitting that her win came down to a battle with local rival Foster, though they rarely competed against each other this season despite the proximity of their schools.
“She’s right there with me and it was some rough competition, that’s for sure,” Wasik said. “She’s as good as it gets.”
After a pair of vaulters bowed out of the competition at 11 feet, 6 inches, the two went head-to-head and were the only ones left standing when the bar was raised to 12-2.
Wasik, who finished second in the state as a junior by just two inches, was ready for the challenge, as she and Foster recorded personal-best jumps of 12-2. The Medina senior won the crown based on overall misses for the competition.
The excitement was so overwhelming Wasik couldn’t put it into words after Foster missed her final try at 12-6, ultimately giving the championship to her.
“I can’t, it’s just so much excitement,” she said with a big smile. “This weekend with graduating, it’s elation.”
What was most impressive was how efficient the win was for Wasik, who had limited misses on the day and cleared the bar with ease at times.
“In practice, it’s been happening and it’s just gotten better and better,” the Villanova recruit said. “I’m actually disappointed that I didn’t get 12-6, because that was my goal for the whole year, but maybe I will go to nationals (later this month) and that will happen.”
In defeat, Foster was still proud of all her accomplishments and how she was able to finish her prep career on a high note.
“I knew she had me on misses and I was going to have to clear higher than her,” she said of her jump of 12-2. “Then I was like, ‘I’m already in second, so just have fun with it.’”
For Herte, it was a matter of making one successful jump.
Behind on misses to Alyssa McBride of Bryan, the Black River senior cleared 11-9 on her final attempt to walk away with the gold.
One jump and she was state champion. One jump and she erased the heartache of failing to get out of districts as a junior.
“State champ was the only thing I was thinking,” Herte said of the final try. “I was just thinking, ‘I have to get it.’”
After switching to a longer pole, the Pirate calmly started into her final jump and sailed over the bar to the cheers of a crowd that may have accounted for half of Sullivan Township.
The leap matched her personal best and helped her beat McBride, who had cleared as high as 12-3 this season.
“It was a little nerve-racking,” Herte said. “I was getting a little nervous there at the end, but I pulled through.”
It was a gamble by coach Corey Kline to have Herte switch to a 13-foot-7 pole she hadn’t used all day with one jump remaining, but the move paid off.
“To be on the third attempt and switch poles, we moved all in and this time it worked,” said Kline, a former state-qualifying pole vaulter at Mapleton. “She came off the mat (after her second attempt) and she was on her smaller pole and I said, ‘We have to go with the big one. You’re not getting the kick off the top and we have to go to the bigger one.’
“She kind of looked at me and I said, ‘Hey, if you clear it, you’re the state champ. Get on the big pole, run as hard as you possibly can and leave nothing on the runway. If you clear it, we’re state champs and if you don’t, we gave it all we could.’ It worried me not having two more attempts on it, but she hammered it.”
Contact Dan Brown at email@example.com.