BEAUMONT — Monday’s windy girls pole vault competition was all about winning, competing and friendship at the District 20-4A track and field championships in Zaharias Stadium.
Little Cypress-Mauriceville senior Zoe Casteel won by clearing the bar at a District 20-4A record height of 12-0. Port Neches-Groves senior Lauren Lovejoy did more than win under the circumstances, by finishing second at 9-6 after one and only one practice.
The two seemed to value their friendship as much as anything in battling it out to be the best. It all goes back to the seventh grade when Casteel and Lovejoy started vaulting against one another in junior high meets. Then the two girls grew apart and went their separate ways.
Planning to compete for the Air Force Academy next year, Casteel kept her track career on track. Her father Allen had coached Zoe to keep improving at her craft. With a strong swirling wind at the north end of Zaharias Stadium, Casteel soared over the bar at 12-0 looking as if she had cleared the height with five or six inches to spare. That amount to five inches above the previous district mark of 11-7, established by Lumberton’s Leslie Beard in 2010.
Ah but Zoe had to keep going because she wanted to match her dad’s ‘family record’ of 12-6.
“I really wanted 12-6 today and I felt I could get it,” Casteel admitted. The LC-M senior might just do it next week in Zaharias Stadium when the top four finishers from District 19-4A and 20-4A can compete in the first-ever area meet.
Even the LC-M senior acknowledged that Lovejoy’s story ranked right with Zoe’s. A most valuable Lady Indians star in volleyball and soccer, Lovejoy tied her best-ever height for the silver medal and barely missed 10-0 on her final attempt. That’s with virtually no preparation or track season whatsoever. Lauren and her soccer team finished their season with a heart-breaking 1-0 loss to Magnolia last Friday night in the 4A sectional-round playoffs at Humble.
Planning to play soccer next fall at Lamar University, Lovejoy noticed Casteel at practice earlier this winter when PN-G played soccer at LC-M. That moment served as Lauren’s motivation.
“I had one day of practice three weeks ago,” Lovejoy said. “Then I tried to vault in two meets, our meet and LC-M’s meet. Zoe and I go back to the seventh grade as close friends. It was really funny. I just happened to see her at practice and I thought I would just love to do the pole vault again.
“I feel great because this is the first time I’ve gotten past district.”
And she owes most of it to the LC-M competitor who is the new 20-4A district pole vault record-holder.
Pole vault – 1. Zoe Casteel, LCM, 12-0; 2. Lauren Lovejoy, PNG, 9-6; 3. Mikayla Brinson, Lum, 9-6; 4. Kaitlyn Black, Lum, 9-0; 5. Jade Weatherford, PNG, 8-6.
Pole vault – 1. Sumner Ogryzdiak, Ned, 13-0; 2. Travis Gallier, Ned, 11-6; 3. Austin White, LCM, 11-6; 4. Michael Tyson, Ned, 11-4; 5. Jacob Dorsey, PNG, 10-0; 6. Spencer Wommack, PNG, 10-0.