Westmoreland County trio setting pole vault standard

Pole vaulters Kelsey Plecenik, Courtney McQuaide and Bridget Guy have a lot in common.

Not only are they the top pole vaulters in the WPIAL, and possibly the state, they all live within a 15-mile radius of one another in central Westmoreland County.

They’re also good friends.

Plecenik, a junior at Norwin, is the returning WPIAL Class AAA champion after she cleared 12 feet, 1 inch, to edge her friends Cassidy Shepherd of Greensburg Salem (11-9) and Hempfield’s Guy (11-6) last spring at Baldwin Stadium.

Hempfield’s Lexi Masterson and McQuaide, now a senior at Greensburg Salem, tied for seventh at 11-3. Shepherd and Masterson are now in college.

And while some may think they’d be rivals, they’re not. They’re almost like teammates.

“We’re all good friends,” Plecenik said. “We were all gymnasts, and we practiced and went to camps together. Winning the WPIAL title was a shock.”

At the state meet, Masterson ended up second after clearing 12 feet. Guy was fourth (12-0), Plecenik and McQuaide tied for seventh (11-6) and Shepherd placed ninth (11-6).

Plecenik, McQuaide and Guy are battling an assortment of injuries, including shin splints. Plecenik had surgery on her right knee after hurting it in soccer during the fall and recently sustained her third concussion.

After going through a series of concussion tests, which included walking, riding a bike, jogging, lifting and sprinting, she returned to the lineup April 12 to win the Lady Spartan Invitational with a jump of 11 feet.

Guy didn’t compete because of her injuries.

McQuaide cleared 11-10 to break the school and meet records April 11 at the Butler Invitational.

McQuaide has the best jump so far this season, and Plecenik and Guy have cleared 11 feet. The fourth-best jump in the WPIAL was recorded by Hempfield’s Ravenne O’Lear (10-0).

“I was pushing myself hard to get back,” Plecenik said. “The concussion occurred when my neck whiplashed back when I landed in the pit.”

Now she puts her hands around her head and cradles her neck on the landing.

And when the trio are competing against each other, they’re still rooting for each other.

“If I don’t win, I’m pulling for Bridget or Kelsey,” McQuaide said.

McQuaide and Guy are actually scheduled for a busy week.

Both are entered in the Penn Relays on April in Philadelphia and then, along with Plecenik, will compete in the annual Westmoreland County Coaches’ Association meet April 26 at Latrobe’s Memorial Stadium.

McQuaide competed at the Penn Relays a year ago, and she’s better prepared for what’s ahead, she said.

“The starting height was 11-6,” McQuaide said. “On my first attempt last year, I had the bar cleared but just clipped it. I cleared 11-9 at the indoor national meet, so I figured I’ll be able to clear 11-6 this time. I’m looking forward to the meet.”

The trio is looking forward to competing at Baldwin in May. The girls compete on an elevated runway, which is something each one of them enjoys.

“It’s my favorite runway; I’m so much faster on it,” said McQuaide, who will attend Slippery Rock. “My goals are to PR (personal record) in every meet.

“I’d like to finish higher at the WPIAL and PIAA meets. Finishing seventh put me on the edge. If I win, that’s even better. If I don’t, I’m rooting for Kelsey and Bridget.”



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