As a senior at Metairie Park Country Day School, Merritt Grace Van Meter, a daughter of Mrs. Clifford Holly Van Meter, née Marianne Mattingly of Waverly, Iowa, and the late Dr. Van Meter, achieved the best mark in the nation for a high-school girl in the pole vault, also setting a new composite state-meet record and being named state track meet MVP. A seven-year member of the school’s track and field team, she was named All-District, All-Metro, All-State and All-American; Sugar Bowl Amateur Athlete of May 2010; Gatorade 2010 Track & Field Athlete of the Year; and The Times-Picayune’s All-Metro girls’ outstanding field performer.
Merritt also holds Country Day records in pole vault, high jump, long jump, javelin throw, and the 200-meter dash, and played varsity soccer as well. She was chosen to be a delegate to the National Student Diversity Leadership Conference, and was a member of Students Against Destructive Decisions and co-founder and co-president of Students Against Xenophobia.
As a college freshman, she attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a track scholarship, specializing in pole vaulting, and was named to the All-Atlantic Coast Conference first team, track and field. She is an incoming junior at Tulane University, having received a track scholarship to that school as a sophomore. At Tulane, she is majoring in public health and is a member of the track and field teams and the Athlete’s 3.0 Honors Club. Earlier, she was named to Gambit Weekly’s “40 Under 40” list of outstanding young New Orleanians.
Merritt enjoys enjoy piano, sketching, fishing, hunting, competitive rodeo, horseback riding, water skiing, hiking and camping.
She teaches English as a Second Language to Spanish-speaking immigrants, is a public speaker and mentor for young athletes and students, and a speaker for California’s “Run for the Dream” campaign promoting healthy choices and active lifestyles for children.
After college, Merritt plans to pursue a career in professional pole vaulting and then work with children in the public-health field.
As a subdeb, she was a princess in the Grand Ball of Osiris. Merritt will be honored, along with six other debs, at a New Year’s Eve Party hosted by the honorees’ parents.
By Suzanne Stouse