Wright’s trip to State in pole vault a family affair

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By Lance Catchings

Junior Brooke Wright qualified for the State Track Meet in pole vault with a strong showing at the regional track meet last weekend.

Her journey to the pole vault pit started almost seven years ago when her father Lyle Wright, a former pole-vaulter himself, saw her potential.

“I remember her starting out in fifth grade using a closet rod as a pole and vaulting on a home-made pole vault pit in the back yard,” Lyle said. “I saw that she had the potential and eagerness to learn, so I’ve been working with her ever since.”

The work has paid off as Brooke has progressed every year since the seventh grade, when she first cleared 8’0”. She cleared 9’0” in eighth grade, 9’6” as a freshman and 10’0” as a sophomore. Brooke is a multi-sport athlete, so she must do in half a year what most pole-vaulters spend the entire year working on.

“Brooke has struggled reaching her goal in a meet this year of 11’0” until now, when she surpassed it by clearing 11’6” at regionals,” Lyle said. “Since the girls’ basketball season went deep into the playoffs, she has been a little behind in progressing, since not being able to practice until basketball was over. Almost all the girls she competes with at the area, regional and state levels vault year-round, so it will be difficult going into State trying to compete with those girls.”

Brooke said before the regional meet, she just tried to focus on becoming better in each aspect of her event.

“Before the regional meet, I just did a lot of drills and tried to focus on consistency,” Brooke said. “I wanted to get my opening heights on my first attempts heading into the meet, and I felt that was a big deal heading into the regional. I started working up to high heights in practice and tried to get a personal record. I worked a lot of ab workouts and pole drills on the side, just trying to prepare myself for the meet.”

Upon arrival to the regional meet in Kingsville, Brooke said the competition was stiff, but she decided to focus on herself rather than what others were doing.

“I got there and there were a lot of amazing girls at the regional meet,” she said. “I tried not to focus on them, but focus on getting the best height I could get for myself. When it came down to the final people and I realized I was going to qualify for State, that was exciting. I am proud of how well I did on my height, and qualifying for State to me is just an extra bonus.”

Brooke said in that moment she realized she was headed to State, there was some disbelief as well as a wave of satisfaction that came across her.

“There were a lot of emotions happening at the pole vault pit once I qualified for State,” she said. “I had some tears and my dad had some tears, as well. I hate to say it wasn’t expected, but it was a cool moment. It was something I knew I could do, but I didn’t think I would be able to do it this year. After that, I had three attempts at 11’9”, but I was a little tired and my energy level started to fade. I felt they were good attempts, but I lacked energy from my previous vaults.”

As she prepares for the State Meet, Brooke plans to take the same mentality she took into regionals, and she is looking forward to sharing the experience with her dad.

“Heading into State, I would just be happy getting 11’6” again,” she said. “If I could reach 11’9” or 12’0”, that would be cool, as well. I think I can do it if I can clean up my form a little bit. The goal is just to get 11’6” again and then see what happens. My dad has been my coach since seventh grade and helped guide me through pole vault. It was exciting having my dad with me on this journey. He has seen the ups and downs and the bad days and the best days. He has always helped me and motivated me. Hopefully, we can go do well at State.”

Having coached her for many years, Brooke’s father believes she is finding her stride at the perfect time, but admitted the competition at State will be the best Brooke’s ever competed against.

“Brooke is starting to peak now that she has had more time to practice and more consistency in practice,” Lyle said. “Although she is tied for the second best jump out of all the regional meets, she will be competing at the State meet against the three-time State Champion from Taylor. She will need to focus on the best that she can do and not worry about what’s beyond her control of how high the other girls vault. At the State Meet, all of the girls will be jumping at least 11’0”, so it may come down to misses in order to place in the top three. She will have to come out every day at practice and work on the fundamentals to maintain her consistency.”

The State Track Meet is May 10-11 at the University of Texas.

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