COLUMBUS — Fredericktown High School junior Katie Newkirk finished in a two-way tie for seventh among Division III girl pole vaulters on Day 1 of the 2009 OHSAA State Track and Field Championships at Jesse Owens Stadium in Columbus, Friday.
Newkirk, who was eighth in the state last year, earned All-Ohio status for the second straight year after barely clearing 10-feet-4, which is a new Fredericktown High School record.
Newkirk, who cleared 9-foot-6 at the regionals to land a state berth, reached new heights on Friday with a bit of divine inspiration.
“I was saying my little prayer inside,” said Newkirk. “I said, ‘I’m content with what I have and I am happy to be here. I just want to do my best. Thank you for this opportunity. If I can do my best on this last vault, that’s all I want.’ So, I went up there expecting to make it, but not at the same time.”
She brushed the bar as she went over and she was sure that 10-foot-4 was out of her reach. Somehow the bar didn’t fall.
“I hit (the bar),” explained Newkirk. “On the way down, I was thinking to myself, ‘There it goes. I did it, I lost.’ Then, I land, I look up and there it is. It was very close. I nicked it. As I was falling, I was content with my vault. I couldn’t believe the bar didn’t fall.”
“It was unreal,” added Newkirk. “I know the best I can do and I know what I have to offer. I want to do my best. I want to show that I am consistent and that I can make 10 feet and I did it, so I was excited.”
Newkirk could get another shot at the podium next year.
“Hopefully, I can make it here again,” said Newkirk. “It is an awesome experience with all of these people here.”
Fellow Freddies’ pole vaulter Gary Gregg tied his personal record of 12 feet against the Division III boys, but overall the senior was not quite as lucky. Gregg’s 12-foot vault was good for 15th in the state.
“It was fun,” said Gregg. “It was good competition. A lot of kids are sitting at home right now, so it is good to be here.”
Despite hitting 12 feet, Gregg wanted to do better.
“It felt good and then I just had a bad day,” said Gregg. “It’s a hard day to have a bad day, but it happens. It’s all right to tie my PR, but I’ve been hitting it four or five times. I wanted to come out and improve it, but I didn’t. Oh well, you can’t complain when you’re at the state track meet.”
Mount Vernon’s Danae Rockwell placed third in the first heat of the Division I girls 100-meter hurdles. In the process, Rockwell turned in a PR (14.41 seconds) and gained a berth in today’s final.
“It felt really good,” said Rockwell. “I’m proud of that race. I felt really quick. My start was a lot better. I didn’t hit any hurdles. Everything went good. It was a good race. It was the best I can do. I’m thankful for what I’ve got and I am thankful to be here. It’s just awesome. I can’t believe I’m here.”
Teammate Jhazmyn Anderson wasn’t as lucky in the girls 400-meter run. After fighting winds that picked up a bit in the late afternoon, Anderson was passed on the final turn and wound up seventh with a time of 57.98 seconds.
“I started off quicker because the wind is bad at that first turn,” said Anderson. “I think that made me tired on the last turn. I’m really happy that I made it here in the first place. At least I had a chance to try. I met a lot of cool people. It’s just a really fun experience.”
Also, among area athletes, Johnstown’s Mychelle Furlan got off a 108-8 throw in the in the Division II girls discus to take 15th place. Steve Stooksbury of Highland was 10th in the Division II boys shot put, tossing it 52-2.