Sanchez vaults to the top for Oaks Christian

Entering high school, Kim Sanchez was destined to be a star swimmer.

There was just one little hiccup. Sanchez’s best friend, Imogen Browder, wanted to do track.

Sanchez decided to give track a whirl.

“I’m glad I started doing it,” Sanchez said. “I started pole vaulting. I wanted to give all my time to it.”

Now she’s a pole vault maestro for the Oaks Christian track and field team.

Sanchez is dedicated to and focused on her craft—pole vaulting is the senior’s only event. It’s the only sport she does, and she does it all year round.

Why is she so passionate about pole vaulting?

“I’ve always been super competitive,” the 18-year-old said.

“This was a new challenge. I wanted to be the best at something. I wanted to have my thing that was fun to do.”

The Lion vaulted a personal record 11 feet, 6 inches at the Ventura County Championships at Moorpark last spring.

Sanchez’s best vault so far this year is 10-6. She’ll compete at Saturday’s Maurice Greene Invitational at Oaks Christian.

A former Olympic champion, Greene is in his third season coaching Lion sprinters.

“I’ve gone back to basics,” Sanchez said after Monday’s practice. “I’m going back to fundamentals. I’ve retaught myself smaller techniques to help improve my form to get better.”

She wants to clear Lauren Radke’s school-record 12 feet in the pole vault.

Described as a “trail blazer” in pole vaulting for Oaks Christian by head coach Wes Smith, Radke is a senior standout at UC Davis.

Every little movement counts in pole vaulting, Sanchez said.

“I love the challenge of it,” she said. “It’s a difficult sport. It challenges me to do better and improve upon my marks. . . .

“If the start run is off, the whole thing falls apart.”

Sanchez placed second in the pole vault at the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 finals last year.

She was one of eight OCHS girl pole vaulters to qualify for the postseason. She also notched third place at the section finals as a sophomore.

After advancing to the Masters meet in 2011, Sanchez wants to go to the big show.

“I would love to go to state this year,” she said. “I’d love to get the school record. Hopefully I can set a new record around 12-6.”

When everything’s clicking, anything can happen in the pole vault.

“As long as you have a good day technique-wise,” Sanchez said, “you can clear any height.”

Her younger sister, Katy, is a freshman vaulter for OCHS.

Katy Sanchez said her big sister has been influential in the sport.

“She’s really inspired me to go at it and never give up no matter how bad your day is,” Katy Sanchez said. “Her dedication makes her (great). She inspired me to do (pole vaulting). All her friends did it, and it looked like a lot of fun.

“She found her niche with it. Maybe I can find mine.”

Smith said Kim Sanchez is the “consistent leader of the group, both in performance and as a competitor.”

“She works hard, she’s diligent and she’s faithful,” the coach said.

Smith’s wife, Rachel, coached Sanchez in elementary school for track and basketball at the West Valley Christian Academy in Canoga Park.

Sanchez said she enjoys learning nuances of the sport from Imogen Browder’s father, Ben, the OCHS pole vault coach.

“He’s not just a coach, he’s a really good friend of mine,” Sanchez said.

“He can talk me out of thinking too much and help me get past mental blocks I’m having.”

Sanchez also practices with the Lucky Strike pole vault club at Los Angeles Valley College.

The Lion wants to vault at the next level. Her top two choices are Azusa Pacific and Westmont.

The honors student with a 3.5 grade-point average wants to major in athletic training.

She’s also involved with a youth group at Cornerstone Community Church in Simi Valley.

Sanchez has one big dream in pole vaulting.

“I’d like to go to the Olympics one day,” she said, “hopefully in 2016.”


By Eliav Appelbaum

Retrieved From:

Kim Sanchez

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