No one will ever doubt the persistence of Angel Myers.
As a freshman in the fall of 2009, she approached Wickliffe coach Amanda Corrigan during cross country season and told her she wanted to give pole vault a shot that upcoming spring.
Corrigan knows the event well, having been a pole vaulter for the Blue Devils and later collegiately, and initially she wasn’t sure what to make of Myers’ declaration.
“She was shorter than I was and maybe weighed 85 pounds soaking wet,” Corrigan recalled.
“So when I heard she wanted to do pole vault, I said, ‘Well … I’ll let her try it. But I don’t know about this.'”
Now they, along with a proud community, know for sure — it was a wise investment in the future that has served as an example for the school along the way.
Myers has steadily worked herself into being one of The News-Herald area’s better performers in girls pole vault, coming off a junior campaign in which she made it to Columbus in Division II and in the process became Wickliffe’s first girls state track and field qualifier since 1996.
For the three-time district champion — twice in D-III at Independence and last year in D-II at Perry — she knew going from vaults of 6 feet, 6 inches to start all the way to challenging for 11s wasn’t going to come overnight. She refused, though, to settle for anything.
“One day I said, ‘I want to be a vaulter,'” Myers said. “I’ve always been fearless. I’m not afraid of anything. And so looking at it, it was, ‘Yes. This is what I want to do.’ I stepped on the runway, and I realized that my ambitions for it kind of made me as good as I am before I actually had any technique.
“My main thing in life is proving people wrong. If they say, ‘Girls can’t run faster than guys,’ I’ll prove it to you. I will run faster than you. They say pole vaulting is not a girls sport — well, I’m here to show everybody that it is.” By the end of her sophomore season, Myers was already a two-time D-III Tiffin Regional qualifier, clearing a season-best 8-0 as a freshman and later up to 9-6, displaying the coordination necessary to be a quality vaulter.
“Every year,” Corrigan said, “she’s just proven to me that she’s got even more in the tank.
“I don’t think she’s reached her ceiling yet at all.”
In having a rapid career ascent, Myers probably could not have a better mentor. As a senior for Wickliffe in 2003, Corrigan did not advance out of district, clearing 7-6. She, like Myers, remained persistent with improving, eventually becoming Notre Dame College’s indoor and outdoor pole vault record holder at 9-6 1/4 and 9-11 3/4, respectively.
“She obviously knows what she’s doing,” Myers said. “But the main thing for me, she’s my main inspiration. I look at all the progress that she’s done, and I want to be Coach Corrigan. I want to follow her steps exactly, and that’s what I plan on doing.”
Last spring, it all came together. Myers led Wickliffe to a solid runner-up finish in the pole vault relay during the Medina Relays in a predominantly D-I field with a best effort of 9-4, good for the third-best individual mark.
As the regular season wound down, Myers eagerly awaited the arrival of a new pole that could help her challenge for 10-0 and above. It came in time for the CVC Metro meet, as she cleared 10-0 for her first league title and the Blue Devils earned their first girls league crown in 26 years.
“It was a soulmate to me,” Myers said of her new vaulting pole.
Then came a career-best 10-8 to win the Perry District, and a 10-6 to place fourth at the D-II Bedford Regional and earn her first trip to Columbus.
In addition to being the first Wickliffe girls track and field athlete to earn state-qualifier distinction in 16 years, Myers was also just the fourth since 1991. With 163 girls in grades 10-12 according to OHSAA figures, the Blue Devils are one of the 20 smallest Division II schools in Ohio. Of those 20, nine sent athletes to state last year, including a pole vaulter who got a late start but has made up for lost time.
“She is a very, very special person, and her work ethic, her attitude, everything about her, just exudes positive energy and success,” Corrigan said. “If you just work hard enough, do what it is that you want to do, I know not only do all of our girls look up to her, I’ve got some of the guys looking up to her, too, as an example. She pushes everybody — not just the girls.”
Ask the vaulters she takes out on the track and helps with their steps. Ask the coach who quickly became a believer. Ask the teammates and community who are motivated watching her represent Wickliffe deep in the postseason.
They all know — no one will be more persistent in trying to become her school’s first two-time girls track and field state qualifier in a generation in 2013.
“Pretty much every day after practice, I do at least something that pertains to pole vaulting,” Myers said. “I will do anything and everything that I can to get better.
“Honestly, I couldn’t even put (potentially getting to state again) into words. It would just be one of those moments in my life where I’ll know I’ve made a lot of people proud.”