Led by a near-school record effort from senior pole vaulter Morgan Estes, a new school record by freshman high jumper Olga Branney and the middle distance efforts of senior Erika Rector, the Green Bulldogs pulled out a 75-62 Suburban League win against visiting Tallmadge.
Estes, the defending state pole vault champion in Division I, easily won with a jump of 12-3 and narrowly missed out on setting a new school record with a miss in her final attempt at 12-9. In fact, because of the gap between Estes and the rest of the field, the rest of the pole vaulters from both schools took all of their jumps and determined the second- and third-place finishers before the bar was moved up to 12 feet for Estes to start her attempts. With her family and longtime Green head coach and current assistant Dan Gourley looking on and encouraging her on each attempt, Estes tried several tweaks to her approach in her three tries at the record-breaking height.
The changes almost paid off on her third try, as she cleared the bar by plenty, only to clip it with her lower leg on the way down. Afterward, the emotion on her face was evident as the realization sunk in that she would have to wait another meet to top the mark set by former University of Akron standout Carrie Kayes, who holds the school record at 12-8.
“I made 12-3 on my first try, which was very good,” Estes said. “It was a bigger pole and a newer pole for me, but 12-9 1/2 … 12-9 is our school record and all I needed to do was bring my feet back a little more and I did, but the wind got it (the bar). I have plenty of meets left to get it and I’ll get there, I just need more practice and more work on my big poles.”
“She was real close to a school record and just bumped the bar coming down,” Gourley added. “She had real good form today and put a lot of heart into it and I know she’s disappointed, but I know she’ll get that 13 feet later.”
While Estes was seeking records at the pole vault pit, Rector was leading the Bulldogs on the track. The 5-foot-7 senior, also a standout for Tracy Miller’s girls basketball team, paced the 4×800 relay team to an easy win in a time of 10:26.25. With Rector running the opening leg, the Bulldogs opened up a large lead of nearly 100 meters and never relinquished it as sophomore Catharine Hammes, junior Hannah Smith and senior Taylor Conner held off the Blue Devils for the win.