With her senior year just a few short weeks away, East Henderson High’s Pearl Ballard has quite a story to tell her classmates when school opens back up in August.

Ballard just returned from Australia, where she represented North Carolina as she competed in the DownUnder Games, held July 7-15, in the pole vault. She not only competed, she excelled, as she finished in the runner-up position, going up against other vaulters from Australia and New Zealand.

“It was really great to meet other athletes from different countries. I really learned a lot, and everyone was very nice,” she said.

She ended up in second spot with a height of 3.25 meters, which is around 10 feet, 8 inches. She also competed in the long jump and high jump.

Ballard was invited to the DownUnder Sports Games back in the winter, and she accepted the invitation, knowing it’d be a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

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