OMAHA — By any measure, Lincoln Southwest’s Karlye Cygan had a bad day at the state track meet in 2013.
Cygan got a speeding ticket, suffered through a sinus infection and to cap it all off, finished tied for seventh in the Class A girls pole vault.
It was a day she’d just as soon forget.
Friday at Burke Stadium, however, the Silver Hawk senior created memories for a lifetime.
Cygan moved into fifth on the state’s all-time chart and broke the Class A state-meet record by clearing 12 feet, 4 inches, which also secured the all-class gold medal for the NU recruit.
“Last year, I didn’t warm up well and I was overwhelmed by everything,” Cygan said. “After that, I made a pact with myself to be focused for every workout and every meet. I wanted to be ready this time.”
Cygan easily cleared 12-4 on her first attempt, then barely missed on her final jump at 12-6, hitting the bar on her way down.
Already having won the event, “I was pretty excited, but it also makes it hard to focus because there’s nothing to push you,” Cygan said. “You get to run and vault without any pressure, and that’s fun.”
Cygan is LPS pole vault coach Chris Johnson’s fourth girls state champion. Cygan finished second at districts behind teammate Meredith Bowen (who was fourth Friday with an 11-4 leap), and Johnson said that performance motivated Cygan as much as last year’s experience.
“I’ve never seen anyone focus so much after a loss,” Johnson said. “It was her senior year and she didn’t want to go out like that.
“Karlye’s only been vaulting two years,” the coach said. “I’m excited to see where she goes from here.”
Mick breaks Class D meet vault record
For the fifth straight year, a Mick has won the Class D girls pole vault.
Sophomore Catherine Mick defended her title by clearing a class meet-record 11-½. Her older sister, Cynthia, won three straight crowns (2010-12).
After going over her winning height, Mick decided to try 11-6 to eclipse the 11-4 she vaulted earlier this season.
“My pole was a little too soft to go that high,” Mick said. “I haven’t moved up to a longer pole yet and I needed to.”
Mick also qualified for Saturday’s finals in the 100-meter high hurdles (15.91 seconds, second-fastest qualifying time) and 300 low hurdles (personal-best :45.55, fastest qualifying time). A timing malfunction in her heat of the 100 hurdles forced it to be re-run, although Mick did not participate because she won the heat and automatically advanced.
“I’m not sure where they got that time,” Mick said. “I turned around to see my time (on the videoboard) and they never showed it. That’s when I knew something was wrong.
“When they said they were going to re-run it, I thought ‘Are you serious?’ Mick said. “I’m glad I didn’t have to run, because a lot of bad things could’ve happened and I didn’t want a distraction from the pole vault.”
Lempka repeats in Class D discus
Sterling senior Jordan Lempka skipped the drama this year to win her second straight Class D discus crown. The 6-foot-3 Lempka was already leading the field going into the finals, then uncorked a personal-best 136-11 on her second throw of the finals.
Last year, Lempka was third going into her final attempt before unloading her winning throw in calm conditions that did not help the competitors.
“Last year was more exciting, but this works, too,” Lempka said. “I wanted to break 140, but I broke my school record, so I’m happy.”
It’s been a strong senior year for Lempka, an all-stater in both volleyball and basketball. She led the Sterling volleyball team to a third-place finish at the Class D-2 state tournament and the Jets were state runners-up in basketball.
York sophomore Jordyn Stearns surprised the field by winning the Class B discus after entering state with the sixth-best district throw. Stearns won with a 137-4, edging second-place Paige Husa of Fairbury, who had a 136-1 toss.
It was a good finish, considering Stearns’ first throw of the season went 113 feet.
“Practice, practice, practice,” she said when asked about the improvement. “I won (Central) conference and beat Husa there and that gave me the confidence to do what I did today.”
Lincoln East junior Shelby Brown was unable to defend her Class A title, losing her first discus competition in two years, finishing third. Millard South sophomore Eleni Knapp won with a 137-6, Millard North junior Laurel Mertz had a 135-2 and Brown finished with a 133-8.
Superior’s Alex Meyer won her third straight Class C discus title and defended her all-class gold medal with a 155-0 toss.
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