When Katrina May entered Columbus North High School four years ago, track and field might have been the last sport she imagined trying.
A veteran gymnast and a key part of the Bull Dogs’ ultra-successful gymnastics program, May made a leap of faith — or better yet, a vault of faith — by trying out the pole vault her freshman year.
Four years later, May is the most decorated and successful pole vaulter ever to compete at North, and she also is The Republic Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
“To come out my freshman year and then come back and actually have fun with it and be such a big part of my life was amazing,” May said. “Doing a different sport than gymnastics was very intriguing because I had never really done a different sport before, but doing a lot of the same techniques, it was nice to have that little head start there.”
May was The Republic Gymnast of the Year as a freshman and sophomore and a member of the All-Area Gymnastics team all four years. This year, she finished second in the state in the all-around competition and won the IHSAA Mental Attitude Award after helping lead the Bull Dogs to the team championship.
But May is finished with competitive gymnastics. She’s headed to Purdue to pole vault.
“There will always be a little soft spot in my heart for gymnastics,” May said. “This year, the state gymnastics meet was a dream come true. I don’t think I could have asked it to go any better, and then to follow it up with a successful track season, was very exciting.”
That track season began in the Hoosier State Relays, the unofficial state indoor meet. She vaulted a personal best and indoor school record 12 feet, 6 inches to take the runner-up spot in the big-school division.
Early in the outdoor season, she broke her own outdoor school record with a 12-0 vault. She tied that at the state finals, when she finished third.
“That (state indoor meet) was a pretty good start for the season, but after that, I started to deal with some injuries that held me back a little bit,” May said. “By the end of the season, we started to deal with that a little bit, but I was not able to put up (an overall) PR outdoors. But overall, my last three meets, I was pretty happy with how they went.”
Following the state meet, May finished fifth at 11-6 in the Midwest Meet of Champions in Delaware, Ohio. Then on Saturday, she took 22nd at 11-10 3/4 in the New Balance Outdoor Nationals in Greensboro, North Carolina.
North pole vault coach Dale Stelting thinks that performance got May thinking how well she’s going to do in college.
“I think it really brought home to her that she really is an elite vaulter, and she deserves to be in the conversation with the best girls in the nation,” Stelting said. “She only practices pole vault two months out of the year, and all these girls are vaulting year-round. She’s going to Purdue with the idea that she’s going to do a lot better, and she’s excited about it.”
After dealing with shin and back injuries at the end of the season, May is taking some time off from pole vaulting. But she is doing core strength and conditioning training at North with former Bull Dog thrower Tessa Krempel, who is transferring from Western Kentucky to Iowa State.
May, a three-time regional champion in the pole vault, goes to Purdue in mid-August and will begin fall training.
“Her record is amazing,” Stelting said. “It was very satisfying for me not only to be her coach because of the kind of person that she is; but the kind of athlete that she is, I had never coached. To say that I am going to miss her would be an understatement. There was never a time in her four years that I wasn’t proud of her.”
[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”All-Area team” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]
Avrie Allen, Columbus North: The senior ran on the 4×800-meter relay team that finished 26th at state.
Kirsten Ballard, Columbus North: The sophomore ran on the 4×800 relay team that finished 26th at state.
Nina Bouthier, Columbus North: The senior ran on the 4×800 relay team that finished 26th at state.
Rachel Brougher, Columbus North: The junior finished 24th at state in the 3,200.
Beyoncey Coleman-Turner, Columbus East: The freshman finished 15th at state in the discus.
Justine Corya, Jennings County: The senior finished 23rd at state in the 400.
Seena Greiwe, Columbus East: The junior finished 22nd at state in the discus.
Sierra Lax, Columbus North: The senior finished 18th at state in the 1,600.
Katrina May, Columbus North: The senior finished third at state in the pole vault.
Kathleen McCann, Brown County: The sophomore finished 21st at state in the 100.
Katie Mack, Columbus East: The senior tied for 23rd at state in the high jump.
Arig Tong, Columbus North: The sophomore ran on the 4×800 relay team that finished 26th at state.
Kayla Truesdell, Jennings County: The freshman finished 23rd at state in the shot put.
Brown County: Haley Abraham, Kyomi Ball, Shaelyn Biddle, Kennedy Bruner, Vivien Crimmins, Maddie Fields, Sam Francis, Corrissa Proctor, Andi Smith, Ryanne Smith, Jalynn Stanford, Elly Wertz; Columbus East: Ashley Allen, Becca Bryan, Lizzy Frazier, Kayla Gastineau, Keeleigh Kikendall, Kristen Lyons, Maddie Lyons, Emma Mensendiek, Gracie Schultheis, Taylor Smith, Cortney VanLiew; Columbus North: Mackenzie Agnew, Kayla Alexander, Allison Coffey, Baleigh Drum, Dakota Gates, Katlin Meek, Jahna Smiley, Liz Tynan; Hauser: Grace Hasler; Jennings County: Alana Daeger, Alexis Harsh, Kailee Nauert, Emma McPeek, Nicole Richardson, Molly Simmons, Denza Simpson, Marley Stearns, Autumn Thomas.