The Nixa seniors entered this season as two of the top returning vaulters in Class 4. So far this season they have not been able to replicate the heights of last year, or even the indoor season. The lingering winter weather has had a lot to do with limiting their ability to hone their craft and refine techniques.
Even when the sun is out they seldom get to practice during the week.
“This year has been tough weather, and we don’t have a coach,” Megan said. “We practice at the meets. We don’t have a pole vault coach at Nixa, and we don’t have poles there.”
Staci agreed. “Recently we’ve gone a whole week without getting on a pole until a meet. I knew coming into the season we weren’t going to have a coach and not have our poles there. But Megan and I can coach each other.”
Former Nixa vault coach Jerry Cousins left following the 2010 season to open Vault House Central in Highlandville. It’s an indoor practice facility that serves more than 20 area vaulters, and it’s where the Wickershams typically train. During the indoor season Megan cleared 11 feet, 6 inches for second place at the Big River Running Indoor Series Championship. Staci topped 11-0 ¼ this winter.
The poles the girls use are normally at the club, but they occasionally bring them to school to get workouts in during their practice at Nixa. Now that districts are approaching and school is essentially over for the seniors, the twins said the poles will remain at Nixa for them to get in a lot of practice in the last weeks of the season.
Nixa coach Jim Middleton said there are poles available at Nixa for the girls to use, but they opt for the poles at Vault House. Middleton also keeps the girls occupied during practice with their other events, with the understanding they prefer to train for the pole vault at Vault House. Megan works on her high jump (PR of 5-0) and triple jump (PR of 34-3 ½), and Staci has the long jump (PR of 15-9) and relays.
Now is the time when both girls expect to start surpassing the 11-0 mark they have topped out at several times this year. Middleton said their even-keeled personalities will go a long way toward climbing new heights.
“They don’t get too high and don’t get too low,” Middleton said. “When they’re trying out a new pole, they’ve been patient in working up to new heights.”
The girls were bitten by the pole vault bug while watching the 2008 Olympics. They grew up in gymnastics, so some of the body mechanics and technical aspects came easily to the pair.
Megan, who vaulted 11-3 for third at state last year, said each possesses a better strength in the event. She is better in the top half – the swing and getting vertical – and Staci is better with her plant, staying tall and strong.
“If you put us together, we’d be a pretty good vaulter,” Megan said.
Following the season, the twins will part ways for the first time to vault at different colleges. Staci is heading to Southwest Baptist, and Megan will continue her career at Pittsburg State.
“I’m nervous but excited at the same time,” Staci said. “We’ll learn to not always rely on each other and spread out and make new friends.”
The duo still has some goals to topple before splitting up, including setting new pole vault PRs before the end of the season, and with the other sister there to offer tips and support they should be clearing new heights together.
“We give each other corrections a lot and are really supportive of each other,” Megan said.
“We work as a team,” Staci said.