“It’s daring,” she said.
“You definitely have got to be fearless to do this,” said Livio Centanaro, Gardenia’s father and coach at Roosevelt.
Centanaro’s vault of 12 feet, 8 inches at the Los Osos Grizzly Invitational on March 9 established a Riverside County record and it’s a mark that currently ranks third among state leaders, according to prepcaltrack.com.
Centanaro qualified for last year’s CIF-State finals and finished ninth with a best of 11-9.
How high might she go?
“Sky’s the limit,” her father said.
Centanaro has been vaulting since 2010. It was a little something she inherited from her father, a vaulter at Covina South Hills High.
But he said he didn’t as much push her as he floated the idea.
“You might want to try it,” he said he told her at the time.
“If you are going to do this,” he recalled, “you have to give 110 percent, and I will give 110 percent as far as coaching.”
Gardenia made the commitment and they have been training primarily year-round since she was a freshman.
Livio committed as well and is the Roosevelt vault coach, guiding 15 vaulters this season.
Their shared commitment has paid off in a full-ride scholarship to Columbia University.
On Saturday at the Chet Nicholson Relays at Norco, Gardenia won the pole vault with a clearance of 12-0.
Having just set the county record a week before at 12-8, she looked to better it and had the bar set at 12-9. She just missed at 12-9 … but not by much.
That’s where her father’s ”sky’s the limit” comment comes in. When asked about his daughter’s expectations for the season, he mentioned 13 feet. But then stopped himself.
“It’s hard to gauge height,” he said. “What if she hits that next week? The sky’s the limit.”
Whatever she hit last week, he said, becomes the goal to exceed the next week.