Hickory High junior Shelby Garnand seems to have a fickle love for organized sports.
Basketball, tried that.
Soccer, been there.
Gymnastics, done that.
Softball, now that was her niche. She played on AAU teams and on the high school team as a freshman.
Then along came another freshman flirtation, the outdoor track season.
“I first saw some people at my school doing this pole vault drill, and I wanted to try it,” Garnand said. “I also figured that since I had done gymnastics and diving, I knew how to move my body in the air and that would help me with the pole vault.
“When most people try the pole vault, they have trouble because they are not used to their body being in the air.”
It turned out to be love at first jump. Garnand quit diving and softball to concentrate on the pole vault. Oh yeah, and in five other track events: 400 relay, 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles, long jump and high jump.
But truly, madly, deeply, pole vault is it.
After qualifying for the Eastern Region meet in her first season, and in both the 2012 indoor and outdoor seasons, Garnand broke through in a big way during this year’s indoor season.
First, she won her first Southeastern District title, with a personal best vault of 10 feet. That mark also qualified Garnand for the state meet, where she placed seventh (at 10 feet).
“I was pretty excited about that,” Garnand said of making all-state. “People ask me if I ever regret my decision to quit softball. I miss it, but I don’t regret it. I’ve already achieved more with track than I would have in softball, I feel.”
The most difficult part of pole vaulting for Garnand has been traveling 20 or more miles for practices. Hickory does not have a pole vault coach. During her first two years, Garnand, along with other area pole vaulters, traveled all the way out to King’s Fork in Suffolk, for sessions with Cary Carter.
Since Carter retired at the end of the last outdoor season, Garnand and her vault mates now travel to Princess Anne High, where they are coached by Brian Triolet. Garnand’s ability to play a lot of sports and adjust to a lot of coaches, helped her with the transition.
“Coach Carter was a good coach, but I also like Coach Triolet a lot,” Garnand said. “My biggest problem is that all my coaches sometimes have to tell me to slow down and chill out. I keep going and going because I want to get better.”
Speaking of getting better, in Garnand’s last meet on April 17, she broke the school record with a personal best vault of 10 feet, 3 inches. It’s also an automatic state qualifying mark.
It just might be enough for this love to last.