CHARLESTON — In the grand scheme of things, there really wasn’t that far for Maddy Smith to go.

From wondering if she’ll ever be physically able to compete in the pole vault again to becoming yet another legend in that event in Ottawa High School’s storied track and field history, it was actually about 11 feet, 9 inches.

Smith — who last spring placed 10th in Class 3A pole vault at the IHSA State Meet despite a quad injury — had much higher aspirations in that event this season. However, those were put in doubt in early December of last year when she suffered a dislocation injury to her left elbow while competing for the Pirates wrestling program.

With a brace to shore up that elbow, plenty of help from her coaches and a gritty determination all her own, Smith came all the way back — ALL the way back — on Saturday afternoon, when the Lady Pirates senior easily cleared that personal-best height of 11-9 to capture the 3A pole vault state championship here at O’Brien Stadium on the campus of Eastern Illinois University.

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