Monica Fusee is well aware of her toughest competition in the area, and it’s not a girl wearing a different-colored jersey.
“It’s myself,” the Port Huron Northern senior pole vaulter said.
The talented senior, who signed a letter of intent to Grand Valley State University for next season, consistently jumps higher than 10 feet. She’s reached a personal best of 11-feet 6-inches and has surpassed 11 feet at PHN “about eight or nine times,” according to her coaches.
Those heights aren’t just insurmountable by the girls in the area, they measure up against many of the boys, including those on the Huskies team, who jump between 11 and 12 feet.
So to say she’s her toughest opponent isn’t a slight to the other girls. She’s just wired a bit differently, not fearing the girls from opposing schools, but focusing solely on the narrow runway and height of the bar.
“To be honest, I always say to myself, ‘People, they’re not my competition because to me the next competition is the next height,” Fusee said. “I never go into a competition saying, ‘Oh she’s really good. I gotta beat her.’”
It’s her, the pole and the bar.
It’s her speed trotting down the path. It’s planting the top end of the pole into the ground and transferring that momentum and taking flight. It’s arching her body over the slim, sensitive barrier at maximum height. It’s not a head-to-head battle.
Not unless it’s against the guys on her team in practice.
“I kind of joke around with them … I’m like,’ Guys, don’t let a girl beat you,” Fusee said.
So far, the 2013 campaign hasn’t been Fusee’s best, but that’s in no part her own fault. The weather has been miserable, and it makes pole vaulting nearly impossible.
Fusee calls it “just one of those years” and she continues to do her best with what’s been given. She jumped 9-foot-6 on Friday at the Husky Relays to help earn her team points. She could’ve gone higher, but was stopped by her coach for precautionary reasons.
And two weeks ago, in a dual meet against Port Huron, on a brutally cold day accompanied by a strong, steady rain, Fusee was the only girl of both teams to clear the bar. “That’s Monica,” Northern girls head coach Jennie Carolan said of the jump. “She’s just determined, and she doesn’t let a thing like that stop her.”
“(She’s a) very very strong competitor, but it sometimes can hurt her a little bit because she wants to do things so well, and she can get ahead of herself,” said Craig Dickinson, Northern boys head coach who also specializes in pole vaulting. “She can run too fast or be too aggressive. But that’s someone that you want.”
Fusee showed that true competitor spirit at Friday’s Relays. Cold and waiting to jump in the last event of the long day, she paced back and forth, joking that in doing so she had probably run about eight miles.
Her name was finally called, and she completed the 9-foot-6 vault. After that, she was stopped by Dickinson and was left disappointed after waiting around all day to clear at least 10 feet.
In other years, when she was younger and not a senior captain, she might’ve been more upset.
“Monica is a great leader,” Carolan said. “She’s a great asset to the team, and she’s really helped move the other pole vaulters along by having her to look up to and the example she can set.”
She’s also, on most days, a guaranteed event victory. And while the weather has caused some issues, she’ll just continue to stay the course, knowing her toughest competition against herself and the height are in a couple months, when states come around.