Taylore Jaques picked a perfect time to establish a new personal best.
The pole vaulter from Presentation High cleared 13 feet, 41/4 inches at Buchanan High-Clovis on June 2 to win the state championship.
“At the beginning of the season I didn’t know if it was attainable,” Jaques said. “After I cleared 13 feet (earlier in the season) I started hoping.”
Five vaulters cleared 13 feet at the state meet. It was the first time that ever occurred in the girls pole vault at a U.S. high school meet, according to longtime South Bay pole vault coach Bob Slover.
Jaques, though, separated herself from the group by being the only one to clear 13-41/4, a nice way to conclude her sophomore year and her second year of competitive pole vaulting.
Now Jaques, the Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year, has set a goal in the 13-10 to 14-0 range for next year, which is getting close to the national record of 14-1 set by Castilleja’s Tori Anthony in 2007.
“We need to get her physically stronger,” Slover said. “In the pole vault you’re never strong enough or fast enough. Your technique is never perfect.
“But she does a lot of things really right. She is a Level 9 gymnast. She already has better upper-body strength than any freshman or sophomore boy, unless they came out of gymnastics.
“What she cleared at state, that’s a good mark for a sophomore boy to jump.”
Jaques qualified for the state meet as a
freshman, advancing through the prelims and clearing 11-6 in the finals to tie for seventh. That experience helped her this year, as she wasn’t in awe of her surroundings or intimidated by the stage.
“I was excited for it, really looking forward to it,” Jaques said. “I felt it was a great opportunity to get a personal record with the unbelievable crowd.”
The pole vault is a unique event, one without a lot of parallels in other sports. Upper-body strength is important, but so is speed on the runway. And so is a certain mindset.
“I guess the pole vault is the closest thing to flying,” Jaques said. “People imagine flying through the air. It’s fun to be up in the air and not be scared, to have faith you’ll come down safe.”
By Glenn Reeves