Elizabeth Quick looks back at the 2011 state track and field meet as a bittersweet memory. Despite finishing second in the pole vault as a sophomore at the Class 4A meet in Tacoma, Quick was sorely disappointed in her height.
Using that performance as motivation, Quick has put most of her focus this season on the mental aspect of vaulting.
“It makes me realize I can’t just float through the season,” she said. “Just because I’m ranked high, doesn’t mean I don’t have to keep competing. I learned to compete against myself.”
Quick was nationally ranked as a sophomore, clearing a personal best 12 feet, 4 inches at the Oregon Relays last season. While she earned a silver medal at the state meet, she only cleared 11-0.
She will compete in the pole vault, high jump and long jump this weekend at the Class 4A Eastern Washington regional track and field championships at Richland High School. The top three in each event advance to the state meet Memorial Day weekend at Mt. Tahoma High.
Quick hopes to clear 12-6 this weekend, which would set the school record. She also has her eyes on 13-0, which has only been cleared once by a girl in the state — Anandae Clark, of Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls) at the Pasco Invite on April 14.
“I should be able to do it,” she said, “It’s just a matter of getting upside down. The biggest thing I’m focusing on is getting my hips upside down and getting over high bars.”
Quick has hit a plateau this season, topping out at 12-0. Her vault coach, Rich Crigler, is shooting for 12-6 this weekend and said she has the ability to go higher if things click.
Crigler should know. He is the one who discovered Quick as a seventh-grader. He works with the vaulters in the summer, and Quick showed up. And it was apparent right away that she was a natural.
“She attacked the box,” he said. “She would go fast rather than slow down. It’s not natural and it’s hard to teach. She was swinging up there at 7 1/2, 8 feet.”
Quick has always been a natural athlete. As a triplet, she and her sister and brother have been competing in soccer, gymnastics, T-ball, track and field and tennis for their entire lives.
Sister Madeline plays tennis for the Bombers and brother Mark plays soccer. Older brother T.J. also played soccer at Richland.
Quick’s natural athleticism is obvious looking through Richland’s results from the season.
She has competed in six events this year and advanced to the regional meet in three events, spending just about as much time last Friday during the district meet running back and forth from the award stand to the pole vault pit than competing in the event.
But her true love is the vault. And while she hasn’t had the best season, she has two more meets left to hit her goal.
“I’d be the youngest ever to 13 feet,” she said. “I want to be the first 14-footer next year.”
By Craig Craker,