Ali Munson is a quick study.
A year ago at this time, Munson was a month into her pole vaulting career. A long jumper in junior high, Munson tried the pole vault when she arrived at Benet.
Now a sophomore, she’s emerging as one of the better vaulters around.
She went 11 feet, 2 inches at the Gus Scott Invitational two weeks ago — at the time, a personal best — then soared past it Wednesday.
At the Benet Invite, Munson cleared 11-7, breaking a six-year program record previously held by Maria Scheet. It’s the third-best outdoor vault in Class 3A this spring in rankings compiled by DyestatIll.com.
Munson, it seems, found her niche.
“You don’t just pick up a pole vault and start going 11-7 the next year,” Benet coach Scott Brooks said. “She clearly has a gift.”
A good long jumper and a fair sprinter, Munson has narrowed her focus to what she does best.
“It’s hard to train for the 400 and then the pole vault too. You have to say, ‘Let’s pick,'” Brooks said. “If there were 28 hours in the day, she would use them all to work on (pole vault).”
That dedication has a companion in competitiveness. Munson, Brooks noted, is most certainly not lacking there.
“She is unbelievably competitive. It’s almost a hindrance,” Brooks said. “She gets so upset when she doesn’t do her absolute best. It could be 30 mph winds, 12 degrees, she doesn’t do her best she’s beside herself. She is a very emotional athlete. That’s part of what makes her so good.”
She has learned to dial it down, though.
“Last year she could have a bad meet vaulting and she’d act like she was the worst person in the world. I’d have to remind her that she had only been doing it a month,” Brooks said. “She still has high expectations, but she understands the process better. She gets real upset when she doesn’t do well but she’s not going to sit there and feel sorry for herself.
“She has the makings of a very special athlete.”
Waubonsie Valley’s sprint relays started the outdoor season in splendid fashion.
The Warriors swept the 400 and 800 at Metea Valley, won the 400 at Gus Scott and took second in the 800.
They kept it going at last Friday’s Indian Prairie Invitational. The team of Rikki Stevenson, Brion Hughes, Dana Dwyer and Tatiana Moore won the 400 and was runner-up to Oswego East in the 800.
But the cold conditions of last weekend could prove costly.
Stevenson (Achilles), Hughes (quad) and Moore (foot) all have come down with injuries in the last week. Pumping the brakes on his sprint relays, Waubonsie coach Dave Gowing will hold them out of this Friday’s Glenbard North Invitational.
Beyond that, it’s anybody’s guess.
“To be honest I don’t know where we are going to wind up,” Gowing said. “That’s something I’m losing sleep over.”
Gowing won’t hesitate to hold his studs out of conference next week, preferring to put them at peak form for sectionals.
A sectional that should be a sprinting fan’s paradise.
“Our sectional, no joke, if we have good conditions I truly feel like all eight lanes will qualify,” he said. “Do I think we can get them down? Absolutely, but at the same time a lot can happen in a relay. We have to hope for health and that our minds are right.”
Olivia Griswold just seems to get better and better with every meet.
Neuqua Valley’s senior thrower broke a program and meet record in the shot put at the Indian Prairie Invitational. Her heave of 44-5 smashed the old Neuqua record by a foot and a half, and puts her second in the Class 3A outdoor rankings compiled by DyeStatIl.com.
That comes on the heels of breaking the Neuqua indoor record. And Griswold, ninth in the state last year, isn’t exactly content.
“She has some numbers in her head,” Neuqua coach Gretchen Parejko said. “She wants more and that’s awesome.”
Welge is a freelance reporter for the Naperville Sun.
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