Although she had pole vaulted 12 feet, 6 inches indoors and 12 feet outdoors, Katrina May was having a little trouble clearing her opening height of 10-0 at the Franklin Sectional.
After missing her first two tries at 10-0, the Columbus North senior’s hopes of a state championship were fading quickly. One more miss, and her season would be over.
“That was probably the most nervous I’ve ever been in the pole vault,” May said. “Not a good feeling only having one more try to make sure that you make it on to the next meet.”
So May did something she had not done in competition. She dug out her warmup pole for the final attempt.
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Fortunately for May, she was able to clear 10-0 on that third attempt and then 10-3 on her second try to finish second in the sectional. Last week, she went 11-6 to win a third consecutive regional title and qualify for Friday’s Girls Track and Field State Finals, where she is tied for the No. 3 seed.
“Typically, that has not worked well for my vaulters in the past,” North pole vault coach Dale Stelting said. “If you have to go to a smaller pole, that’s saying something is really wrong, and it’s difficult to make that work, but she did.”
May typically uses three or four poles in a meet. She used five in the regional at Warren Central and will take seven to state.
In the regional, May entered the competition at 10-6. She missed her first attempt before clearing the bar at that height.
“I was very nervous coming in, but once I started warming up, I started feeling a little bit better, and the good weather definitely helps,” May said.
Stelting said a string of about a month and a half of really bad weather for practice and bad weather for meets eroded May’s confidence a little. But May said after the regional that she was happy to prove to herself that she could return to the level she had reached early in the season.
May, who finished sixth in the outdoor state meet last season, cleared 12-6 to finish second in the Hoosier State Relays, the unofficial state indoor meet, in March.
“We put the pieces together at the HSR, but there were still a couple of pieces missing, so we tore up the puzzle and went back to work,” Stelting said. “Now, we have to put it all together again with those last couple of pieces for the state meet.”
Two weeks before that state indoor meet, May finished second in the all-around competition to help lead the Bull Dogs to the state gymnastics title. Following that meet, she was selected as the IHSAA Mental Attitude Award winner for gymnastics.
The past couple of weeks, May has been battling turf toe and shin issues. She wore a boot to school last week but was able to practice without it.
“She’s going to be competing hurt,” Stelting said. “But the girl, as long as I’ve known her in gymnastics and track, she’s used to competing at less than 100 percent. I don’t know that she’s ever been pain-free in four years.”
Only two other vaulters in the state went higher than May’s 11-6 at the regional level. Pike senior Sandra Brown — the state indoor champion — went 13-2, and Madison junior Maddie Holland went 12-1¼.
The pole vault competition gets underway at 3 p.m. Friday at Indiana University’s Robert C. Haugh Track and Field Complex.
“Watching her vault and seeing her do what she does, she can compete with those two girls,” Stelting said. “If Katrina can go to the state meet and PR by six inches, she’s right in their ballpark.”
May, who has committed to pole vault at Purdue, is hoping to finish her high school career with a bang.
“I think we’re peaking at the right time, so I’m looking forward to it,” May said. “We’re looking to place top three for sure, and then if I can come home with a new (personal record), that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Girls Track and Field State Finals
When: 3 p.m. Friday
Robert C. Haugh Track and Field Complex, Indiana University
Pole vault: Katrina May, Columbus North
High jump: Katie Mack, Columbus East
Shot put: Kayla Truesdell, Jennings County
Discus: Beyoncey Coleman Turner, Columbus East, and Seena Greiwe, Columbus East
4×800 relay: Columbus North
100: Kathleen McCann, Brown County
1,600: Sierra Lax, Columbus North
400: Justine Corya, Jennings County
3,200: Rachel Brougher, Columbus North