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EAST PEORIA – Of the three events she qualified in, eighth-grader Emma Meyer made her biggest impact at Saturday’s state meet in the pole vault.
After easily clearing the first six heights, Meyer needed all three attempts to set a new school record with 9 feet, 9 inches, and in doing so, she finished fourth at the Illinois Elementary School Association state championships.
“I am kind of disappointed that I didn’t get over 10 feet, but I am pretty excited, because last year, I didn’t even place,” Meyer said. “It’s just awesome; I don’t really know what to say.”
Meyer made three attempts at 10 feet, but wasn’t quite able to get over. Her two previous misses at 9-9 allowed Tolono Unity’s Nicole Bagwell to place third, because she cleared 9-9 on her second attempt at the EastSide Centre in East Peoria.
The winner was Nikki Ogorek of Evans, who set a Class AA record with 10 feet, 7 inches.
First-year coach Kelly Hardiek said that the most impressive part of Meyer’s day was that she was able to improve her personal-record, which had previously been 9 feet, 3 inches.
“For her to improve 6 inches on her best jump of the year, I couldn’t be more proud,” Hardiek said. “I was really excited just watching her do her own thing, and she did great.”
Meyer was flawless on the first six heights, clearing all of them with ease on her first attempt.
Last season, Meyer also qualified in the pole vault, placing ninth with 7 feet, 9 inches, and she is hopeful that by the end of her freshman season next spring, she will see another big increase in height.
“At least 10-6,” she said. “That’s if I work hard at it.”
The pole vault wasn’t the only event for Meyer, however, as she also qualified in the 100- and 200-meter dashes.
Her time of 13.32 seconds was the 16th best in the 100-meter dash preliminaries, earning her a spot in the semifinals.
There, Meyer would improve to 15th, with a time of 13.37.
She did not run the 200-meter dash, because that event took place at the same time as the pole vault, and Meyer had a significantly better chance of placing in the pole vault than the 200.
Besides Meyer, five other Jr. Lady Vandals participated at the state meet.
“It was exciting,” Hardiek said. “I was really proud of my girls, even though not everybody had their best performance.”
The best finish came from seventh-grader Karsyn Garrison, who finished 15th in the high jump with 4 feet, 4 inches.
Other seventh-graders at state were: Katie Tarkington, who placed 23rd in the 100-meter prelims (13.95 seconds), and Olivia Marquardt, who placed 25th in the discus (65 feet, 7 inches).
Eighth-graders were: Anna Miller, who placed 29th in the prelims of the 100-meter hurdles, finishing in 18.17 seconds, and Jensen Hollinshead, who placed 24th in the shot put, with a throw of 27 feet, 6½ inches.
All of that came during a season that was a challenge for all track teams in the region.
The season opened with cold weather and snow before becoming rainy, and Vandalia had about five meets canceled due to the conditions.
“With this year being such a bad year for track, with the rain and snow, we had to cancel several meets,” Hardiek said. “Just with the fact that we had six girls go to state, I’m really glad that I stepped into this position, because I see that we can make some noise at state.”