Saturday’s Class 2A state track meet, the pole vault runway was back to being a zone reserved for Hillsborough County boys and girls athletes, just as it was when gold medals were a foregone conclusion, not a point of conjecture.
In an event that demands an intricate blend of mental and physical agility and superb timing, Carroll coordinated perfectly and lofted herself over the bar at 11 feet to win. Carroll and Ransom Everglades’ Nati Sheppard finished at the same height, but Carroll won the title because she did not have any scratches.
“I was hoping to go 11-6, but I’ll take it,” Carroll said. “I was able to stay clean through all my jumps and that helped me build confidence.”
It is a remarkable ascent for Carroll, who started pole vaulting last year after spending her childhood as a gymnast. She missed nearly all of last season with a strained hip flexor.
“I picked up pole vaulting after watching it in the Olympics,” Carroll said. “I’m kind of an adventure seeker, and it is such a rush going up that high and falling into the (foam) pit. I felt like I improved so much this year and still have a lot of room to grow.”
Catchur also won his first state title, clearing 14 feet, 6 inches. Last year, he failed to qualify for the state meet, finishing fifth at region. He was confident that he could win considering he had the top seed heading into the meet at 15-0. But he also knows the pole vault can be a tricky event.
“Anything can happen in the pole vault, so I still was a little apprehensive,” Catchur said. “Poles can snap. You can no-height. I think once I cleared 14-6 I was confident because no one else had gone past 14 before.”
The heights were not eye-popping but the message was clear: Hillsborough County was back.
Since 1999, the county has had a combined 10 state champions in the pole vault among boys and girls entering Saturday’s meet. But this was the first time in two years that Hillsborough had a champion in the event.