Freshman wins district title in High Jump

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Freshman Rachel Gallendar clears the bar on Wednesday. She won a district title in the varsity girls high jump with a best height of 5 feet. She advances to the Area Meet April 23 at Canyon Lake High School. (Kathy Canady Photo)

Freshman Rachel Gallendar clears the bar on Wednesday. She won a district title in the varsity girls high jump with a best height of 5 feet. She advances to the Area Meet April 23 at Canyon Lake High School. (Kathy Canady Photo)

By Taylor Grafft

In her first year of high school track and field Liberty Hill freshman Rachel Gallendar secured a district title in the varsity girls high jump Wednesday morning in Panther Stadium.

That’s quite an accomplishment, considering many of Liberty Hill’s upperclassmen in various other field events weren’t as fortunate to win a title (but still secure spots in the Area Meet).

Gallendar was the first Panther athlete to secure an individual title, after she won a jump-off with a best height of 5-feet.

Immediately following her victory, Gallendar reflected on what it means to be the best in district.

“I’m just really excited and can’t wait to compete against other people (in the Area Meet) and hopefully I can keep going farther in competition,” Gallander said.

With the first-place finish Gallendar and two other Panthers—freshman Ashlee Perkkio (3rd) and junior Bridgett House (4th)—secured spots in the Area Meet, which is being held April 23rd at Canyon Lake High School. On March 28, Gallendar along with three other Panther teammates (Lily Miller, Ana Rodriguez, and Danielle Rimann) competed at the Texas Relays and finished in second place in the Girls’ 1600 Meter Relay HS Div. I Finals.

The girls finished with a time of 4:05.54. If they can keep that consistency and knock a few seconds off, they have a great opportunity to get to the state track meet, which is also held at Mike A. Meyers Stadium.

“(Texas Relays) was a great experience,” Gallendar said. “There were a lot of other schools there that provided good competition and helped make us better. The fact that we did well made me feel good because it let us know where we stand right now.”

Gallendar also competes in the 800 Meter Run and 400 Meter Run for the Liberty Hill varsity girls’ team.

Gallendar has been competing in high jump since seventh grade, but didn’t expect to win a district title in her first year of high school track.

“I didn’t expect (the district title) at all,” Gallendar said. ”I haven’t been able to work as hard as the other upperclassmen, but I still try to work my hardest. I guess my hard work paid off.”

In junior high track, Gallendar tried out several different field and running events, but fell in love with high jump. She made it a personal goal to get to a high level once she got to high school—mission accomplished following her title.

Several times this season the Liberty Hill athletes had their meets cancelled because of inclement weather. Even with less practice time Gallendar felt well-prepared coming into the district meet.

“We still had a lot of practice time, even with the rainy days,” Gallendar said. “I think we were prepared for this, and we did good.”

Gallendar says having Perkkio and House with her at the Area Meet will help calm her nerves and relieve the stress of competition against upperclassmen.

“I’m always calmer around them because they always help me out,” Gallendar said. “It’ll be good to have them there with me.”

Gallendar, Perkkio and House say they push each other during practice and that the competition is fierce.

“I think the other girls in our district were intimidated by us so it felt good (doing well in the district meet),” Perkkio said after competing in her first district meet as a freshman.”

Perkkio has also been competing in high jump since she was in seventh grade, like Gallendar.

House is in her third year of competing in high jump and says that her love for jumping started with playing basketball.

House is on the Liberty Hill Lady Panthers varsity basketball team. That team was one of four state semifinalists that competed at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

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