Abby Nelson was just 3 years old when she first started “pole vaulting,” getting a little PVC pipe to bend.

Nelson had other interests through her elementary years and didn’t really start vaulting again until eighth grade, clearing 7-foot-6 at one junior varsity meet, tying for the win with a middle school boy. She didn’t get serious about it until the next year, and this weekend she will compete in her fourth straight Wisconsin Division 2 state meet at Veterans Memorial Stadium in La Crosse, Wis.

Nelson, who won sectionals in a school-record mark of 11-3, is the top seed in Division 2 but knows the sport of girls vaulting has come a long way.

“This year is the toughest we’ve ever had it,” Nelson said. “My freshman year I went 9 feet and made it to state. This year, you pretty much had to go 10-6 to make it, and at state, you’ll probably have to go 11 feet just to make the top five. You’re still going to have to work at it.”

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