Presley, who just completed her sophomore year at St. Clair High School, cleared 11-0 to finish second during the MSHSAA track and field championships at Lincoln University in Jefferson City.
“I’m excited, but I know I could have done better. I was hoping for 12 or 12-6. I just didn’t perform like I should have,” Presley said. “It was great to place. I know I could have won. I hope to win next year.”
Warrensburg senior Kathryn Ambrose won the Class 3 pole vault title, clearing 11-3.
Presley cleared 11-6 at the sectional meet, which took place a week before the state event.
“Emily wanted to win it,” said St. Clair Coach Brent Yule. “She’s so competitive. She never wants to lose in anything.”
It was Presley’s second pole vault appearance at the state meet. She did not place last year as a freshman.
“The pole vault can be intimidating, especially for a sophomore, and especially at the state meet, where it’s right in front of the crowd,” said Yule. “I think last year’s experience at the state meet helped Emily this year.”
Presley agreed that last year’s experience helped.
“I was a lot more scared last year than I was this year,” she said. “I didn’t medal last year, so I’m glad to do it this year.”
The pole vault can be a frightening event to compete in, but not for Presley.
“I started pole vaulting in seventh grade. When I started doing it, it was fun. I wasn’t scared of it at all,” Presley said.
“Emily is fearless. That’s something Coach (Jim) Juergens teaches all of the kids. You have to be fearless and you have to be confident,” Yule said. “That’s what makes Emily great, even when she’s running. She’s not afraid of anyone.”
So what does it take to be a successful pole vaulter?
“It’s really a mental game. You have to have mental strength,” Presley said. “Form has a lot to do with it, too.”
Presley gave credit to St. Clair’s pole vault coach, Jim Juergens.
“My coach, Jim Juergens, is the best,” she said. “I love him. He’s awesome.”
Yule also credited Juergens.
“St. Clair is fortunate to have Jim Juergens, who is very knowledgeable when it comes to the pole vault. Not all schools have someone like him who knows so much about it,” Yule said. “He has two sons, Michael and Kyle, who he taught how to pole vault. He’s been around the pole vault for a long time.”
With two years remaining at St. Clair High School, Presley should continue to make noise at the state track and field meet.
“For the next two years, I hope to win and PR (personal record) by a foot-and-a half every year,” Presley said.
Yule said Presley was back to working out on Tuesday following the Memorial Day weekend, preparing for her junior season.
“As long as Emily continues to work hard and doesn’t get complacent, she can have a lot of success over the next two years,” Yule said. “We had a pretty young team this season. We lose some seniors, but we have a lot coming back. The conference should be very strong on the girls side again next year.”