WESTWOOD — It’s almost as if Haley Baker was born to compete.
The Mother of Mercy High School senior competes year round for the Bobcats as a member of the volleyball, swim and track teams.
Her real love is track and field where she is one of the top discus throwers and pole-vaulters in the city.
Baker has worked under the tutelage of her mother since she started her track career at age 4. The senior started throwing in the fifth grade and vaulting as a seventh-grader.
“I went to a track camp in the seventh grade and they saw that I was a swimmer and had upper body strength so they just kind of (said I could pole vault),” Baker said. “… I just enjoy the different aspects of strength and everything.”
Whatever she’s doing is working. Baker took first place in both events at the Best of the West meet May 9. She has reached more than 128 feet in the discus and 10 feet, seven inches in the pole vault.
“I think part of it is I play volleyball in the fall and I swim in the winter,” Baker said of her success. “It’s not constantly doing pole vault work or any throwing or anything, but doing all the strength work with all those sports definitely helps and it keep me in shape for track.”
Mercy coach Dennis Schapker sees two main qualities that separate his senior from others.
“Focus and determination are the two main qualities that I see with Haley that set her apart from her fellow competitors,” he said.
Through the years Baker has been coached by not only her mother and Schapker, Rich Christoph took her under his wing as a young high school student while the Mercy coaching situation was in flux.
“I just want to thank him for doing what he did,” Baker said. “Our coaching staff was mostly gone and he invited me over to Elder to train and it really paid off for me.”
As Baker heads off to the University of Alabama in the fall, as if double majoring in marine science and biology isn’t enough, she wants to walk on to the track team. To do so she must hit either 140 feet in discus or reach 11 feet, six inches in the pole vault.
“… I’ve been doing track since I was 4 and I’m not burned out yet,” the senior said. “I just feel like it’s something that I should be doing if I’m still happy with it after all these years.”