Purcell senior Katy Whitekiller had pole vaulted over 12 feet before. But never in the dark.
So, considering she had already sealed up the gold medal at the Meet of Champions with an earlier vault of 11 feet, Whitekiller wasn’t too disappointed that she missed all three attempts at 12 feet, 1/2 inch, Tuesday night at Yukon High School.
Whitekiller and several other competitors made their final jumps in the dark, with cars parked on each side of the lane to shine extra light on the pit.
A few things led to the odd finish of the girls pole vault at the Meet of Champions. First — something that might be a sign of the growing popularity of the event — 26 boys entered the pole vault competition, which was held before the girls’ portion of the event. The boys started jumping at 5 p.m., but the competition lasted well into the evening, and pushed back the start of the girls’ vault.
Second, the wind was blowing out of the south. Had it been a north wind, the vaulting pit would have been at the opposite end of the lane, almost directly under one of the stadium’s light poles, and thus, it would have had better lighting.
But to allow the vaulters to run with the wind at their backs, the pit was on the north end of the lane, which is in a far corner of the stadium, behind a set of bleachers. So the stadium lights didn’t reach that area as well.
Whitekiller, who will vault at Southeastern Louisiana University next year, finally claimed her gold medal at about 10 p.m. She said it wasn’t the first time she had vaulted with the aid of car headlights.
“I did it once before in practice,” she said. “I was using a new pole, and I was determined to get it done, so my coach had to pull up and turn his lights on for me.
“I think it got to a couple of the girls tonight, but you just had to stay focused and not let it bother you.”