Being upside down in midair is why Buna pole vaulter Nicole Casper constantly strives to increase her height in the sport. But it’s also the reason why many of her classmates through the years have thought twice about joining her on the pole vault runway.
“We start out with many and end up with a few,” Buna girls pole vaulting coach Rhonda Dobbins said of the number of athletes who try pole vaulting.
Casper, an exception, will compete in the Class 2A state track and field meet at noon on Friday at Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin. It’s her fourth appearance at the state meet, and she’s looking for her third consecutive title. She is one of two local pole vaulters advancing to state.
Little Cypress-Mauriceville’s Zoe Casteel will compete at the 4A meet on Friday. Casper’s highest vault this year is 12 feet, 7 inches at the Port Arthur Regional Qualifiers in April.
The 2A state record is 12 feet, 3 inches. State records must be set at the state meet. Casper, though, wants more than that; she wants to vault 13 feet.
“I like heights,” said Casper, who has signed with McNeese State. “Nothing really scary has happened to me yet.”
Fear, though, is a common emotion for many pole vaulters.
Brittany Bourque, a second-year coach at Orangefield, has overseen District 21-3A champions for boys and girls pole vaulters during her time with the Bobcats. Bourque also coaches pole vaulting at Orangefield Junior High.
By Jared Ainsworth