Vaulter leads Grapevine to regionals

Posted Monday, Apr. 22, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Making it to the regional track and field meet got a little more difficult this season, but it hasn’t hampered a handful of Grapevine athletes.

Let by sophomore pole vaulter Zoe McKinley, Grapevine went to the new area round meet last week at Coppell.

The area meet is new to the UIL this season and pits the respective top four district finishers from two districts against each other for the right to move on to the Region I meet in Lubbock this week.

Grapevine and the rest of the top four from District 6-5A faced off with those from District 5-5A.

The Lady Mustangs finished third in the district meet, said head coach Carl Anderson, who noted that 13 girls qualified to move on to the area meet.

Among them was McKinley, the returning bronze medal winner from last year’s state meet.

As a freshman, McKinley burst onto the state’s pole vaulting landscape and established herself as one of the top competitors in the sport.

Now, after winning the district and area events, she’ll compete for a chance to return to the state meet in Austin.

McKinley cleared 13’ at the area meet, just an inch below her personal best.

She seems poised to make a run at another medal-winning season.

“My technique is better now,” McKinley said. “I’m just below my personal best of 13’1” and that was at the indoor nationals in New York back in early March,” she said.

“I’m jumping about 6” higher than last year,” McKinley said of her progress.

McKinley knows she’ll need to be at her best to bring home a gold. A Waco Midway senior, Annie Rhoades, has cleared 14’1”.

Although the new area round meet provides opportunities to improve performances, McKinley said she liked the old format.

“I prefer when you’d go straight to regionals from district,” she said. “The area meet is basically the same teams as the district meet.”

In addition to McKinley, another Lady Mustang moving on to regionals is Daphanie Stanford in the 800m and 1600m.

The three relay teams for Grapevine had qualified for the area meet with Sierra Scott, Nicole Paake; Ja’nea Williams, Devon McGowan and Shelmith Mantongo making up those teams.

Fellow pole vaulter Emily Weissmann and Brooke Smyth in the 1600 had also finished in the top four at discus. Skyler Simon will advance in the 3200m after winning the district meet and placing at area.

For the boys, Allen Caunitz will advance in the shot put and Lalo Bermea will also go to Lubbock in the triple jump.

Alex Cleveland and Riley Gonzales had earned spots to compete at the area meet.

“We have high hopes and expectations, especially for girls,” Anderson said. “Now’s the time to peak and our times are improving.”

This story has been corrected from the print edition.

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