Mustangs pole vaulter gearing up to challenge for state next year

05/26/2014 12:00 AM

05/23/2014 2:28 PM

Zoe McKinley has established herself as one of Grapevine High School’s best track and field athletes, and there are a number of reasons why.

The Mustangs pole vaulter finished fifth in the state meet this year with a jump of 13’, second at region with a 12’6” and won a district championship.

Coach Tyler Floyd said he has been very impressed with his vaulter’s effort this season and said he expects big things from her in her senior year next season.

“She’s just a great competitor,” Floyd said. “She is a very focused kid when she needs to be. She has been doing very well in track since she was a freshman, so she is an experienced athlete. We have a couple of other pole vaulters that are pretty good that look to her for leadership, and she provides it. We can always count on her for points and to do her very best.”

McKinley said that she was pleased with her effort this past school year, but added that it is now time to move on to the next step.

“I’m excited for the summer season,” McKinley said. “I would like to clear some 13’6” bars and higher. I want to work on more technique and running.”

McKinley said that she is has been pole vaulting since she was in the seventh grade and said that, while trusting yourself to get upside and vertical with the jump can seem daunting, she did not really struggle with it when she was learning about the sport.

“It was something different, so I just decided to do it,” McKinley said. “Realizing that you can go up in the air is just more of a mental thing, where you learn to trust yourself and have faith that you’re not going to get hurt. You ease into it, so I did not have many problems.”

McKinley said her goals for next season are pretty straight forward.

“I would like to break Desiree Freier’s national record,” McKinley said. “She is a senior this year, and I would like to do that.”

Grapevine will be one of the few current 5A programs remaining in the classification next season, and that will help McKinley’s chances of bringing home a state title, but Floyd said he thinks her chances of winning state are good for other reasons.

“I think it is definitely within reach for Zoe,” Floyd said. “Just because of her focus and drive. She knows she’s got one more shot at it, and I think that his going to drive her more than anything else … in my opinion, it wouldn’t matter the year or the class, Zoe’s got a shot because she’s driven.”

McKinley said she is interested in several schools, including Arkansas, UCLA, Virginia Tech, Ole Miss and University of Texas, but has not been approached by them yet because she is still in her junior year.

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