When Zach Davis learned the USA Track and Field (USATF) Junior Olympics are going to be in Lawrence, Kansas this year, he wanted to try and qualify for the elite event because his family is from that state.
So, his coach, John Rhodes, decided to see if they could make it happen.
They did, and now Davis is headed to Lawrence, along with Leah Rogers, a fellow member of the Vault Cats pole vault club. He will be competing in the Boys 15-16 division and she in the Girls 13-14 division.
Davis was born in Texas, but his parents are from Kansas and he has cousins and grandparents spread across the state.
“Having the opportunity given to me by the support of my family and coach to make it to nationals is a memory I will never forget,” Davis said.
“In the past we only did TAAF (Texas Amateur Athletic Federation), but last year they moved their state meet to McAllen and the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) national meet was in Houston,” Rhodes said. “This year TAAF is back in McAllen and USATF was going to be in Kansas.
“Zach’s parents are both Kansas State graduates and many family members live in Kansas, so we decided to try them this year.”
Davis, who will be a junior at Aledo High School (AHS) in the fall, advanced to the AAU Junior Olympics last summer. To qualify for this year’s USATF nationals, he won the recent Region 12 Meet in Humble with a vault of 13 feet, 7 inches.
Davis’ career-best vault is 14-6 at the last season’s Aledo Bearcat Relays.
Rogers, who will be an eighth-grader at Aledo Middle School in the fall, vaulted 9-8 to place fifth at the Region 12 Meet.
“This is her first year to jump and is doing outstanding,” Rhodes said.
Sierra White, also a junior-to-be at AHS, won AAU regionals in the Girls 17-18 division, clearing 11-6. She is not, however, going to compete at nationals in Michigan.
White is seeking a third consecutive trip to the University Interscholastic League (UIL) State Meet, having finished sixth as a freshman and fifth as a sophomore. Her career-best vault is 11-10 at last season’s UIL area meet.
White was at church camp when the first USATF qualifying meet was held this summer, so she competed in AAU, Rhodes said.
Also from Aledo, senior-to-be Ryan Brown finished seventh in the USATF regionals. He placed sixth at the UIL 5A State Meet in May and has a career-best vault of 15-6 at last season UIL Region I Meet.
White and Brown were competing at TAAF regionals at press time. The TAAF Games of Texas are July 27-30.