BENTONVILLE — Isabel Neal hugged anybody within reach Thursday afternoon, and for good reason.
The Bentonville junior pole vaulter broke the meet record and the Tiger Athletic Complex record — not once, but three times — during the Tiger Relays, and she found somebody to celebrate with every new height cleared.
“I’m so excited to do so,” Neal said. “It feels so good, and I’m so excited for this season. I’ve changed a couple of things in my workout, and I’ve changed the way I’ve pole vaulted — mentally, physically — and the coaches have put all effort in.”
Neal, who was competing in her first outdoor meet this season, credited the differences to coaches Ethan Sandusky and Dave Anderson, who completely changed her jump this season. By the time she cleared 11-6, she was the only vaulter remaining.
She then broke her record when she 12 feet on her first attempt and celebrated at that point. She needed two tries to clear 12-4, then cleared 12-7 on her third and final attempt before she missed all three tries at 13-0.
“I was scared out of my mind,” Neal said. “I just waited for that pole to spring up, and I was in the perfect position. It was great.
“I’m hoping to go at another foot or another foot and a half. I want to soar and see how far I can get.”
Four of the five meet records set in the girls division came in the field events, including two by Fayetteville athletes who broke marks owned by former Lady Purple’Dogs. Lauren Holmes went 37-7 in the triple jump to break the previous mark of 37-0 by Sydney Conley, and Jasmine Franklin had a toss of 41-9, almost 3 feet more than the previous mark set by Brittany Austin.
Meanwhile, Rogers High’s Elise Randels took sole possession of the high jump mark when she cleared 5-5, breaking the previous mark of 5-4 she shared with Brittany Otto of Mansfield. Bentonville’s 4×400-meter relay team claimed the other record when the team of Baylee Barganier, Caroline Bouwhuis, Alexis Johnson, Merrill Leak ran it in 4 minutes, 8.74 records, eclipsing the previous mark of 4:11.27 set by the Lady Tigers by 2011.
Four meet records also went down in the boys division, starting with the 110 hurdles. Rogers High’s Tony Roller also broke a personal-best when he finished in 15.22 seconds and clipped the previous mark of 15.25 by Fort Smith Southside’s Greg Phillips.
“It’s a fun race, and I like it,” said Roller, who also won the 300 hurdles in 40.01 seconds and took high-point honors. “My coaches keep us trained during the offseason and working hard.
“It’s mostly working on starts and form on hurdles. There are little things you can tweak that can make the difference, like pulling your trail leg over quicker and pulling your lead leg down. It’s just working on those drills.”
Blake Young of Fayetteville broke the previous discus record by 4 feet with his throw of 157-9. The meet ended with two more records going down as Har-Ber’s Zach McWhorter cleared 16-1 in the pole vault, and Bentonville’s 4×400 relay team of Devin Dougherty, Billy Horton III, Tyrone Mahone, Harrison Shewmaker turned in a time of 3:23.85, clipping the mark of 3:24.79 set by Southside.
Bentonville wound up sweeping both teams titles as its boys scored 163.5 points to 136 for second-place Har-Ber and 131 for Fayetteville. In the girls division, Bentonville compiled 210 points to Fayetteville’s 173.