SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. — Marissa Kalsey rose to greater heights at the PIAA track and field championships every year of her career. But it wasn’t until her last meet that she finally was able to look down at the rest of the field.
Kalsey, a senior at Waynesburg High School, won the PIAA Class AA pole vault Friday at Shippensburg University, clearing 12 feet, 6 inches.
She was the only WPIAL athlete to win a title on the first day of the two-day event. Half the field events were staged Friday along with preliminary heats in all running events. The other field event finals and all running event finals will be today.
For Kalsey, it was a four-year climb to the title. She qualified for the PIAA meet four years and improved her height each time. She was 15th as a freshman at 9-6, second as a sophomore at 11-0, and third as a junior at 11-6.
Kalsey said one of her goals this year was to break the PIAA meet record of 12-7, but she failed on three attempts at 12-8. The 12-6 tied her personal best.
“It’s one of those things where I know I can do [12-8],” Kalsey said. “But I’m definitely not disappointed. I’m very happy with this because this has been my main goal since my freshman year.”
When Kalsey was getting ready for her three attempts to set the record, the crowd of 5,000-plus clapped in unison and continued to clap as she sprinted down the runway.
“I’ve seen that happen to other people before, but never for me,” Kalsey said of the fan support. “So that was a different experience.”
Kalsey is only the second girl in Waynesburg history to win a PIAA title. The other was pole-vaulter Jocelyn Lindsey, who finished first in 1999 and 2002.
By Mike White / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette