Raising the bar at district

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Central junior Emma Porter can remember when, as an eighth-grader, she first attempted to emulate her sister, Katie, and try her luck at the pole vault.

"It was very frustrating at first," Porter said. "In this event, when one thing goes wrong, it's all wrong."

But Porter proved Saturday at the Class 4 District 1 meet at Oakville High that when everything goes right, there isn't a better feeling.

She cleared 10 feet for the first time in her career Saturday, reaching a long-time goal en route to winning the district championship in the event.

She had set a personal best of 9-9 at the SEMO Conference meet earlier this month. But 10-0 is a mark that could put her in contention for a state medal.

"I've been wanting that for a long time," Porter said of the 10-foot mark. "I was surprised I got it. I guess I knew I had it in me, although I second guess myself a lot."

One believer in Porter through the years in the event has been Central assistant coach Chuck Goodale.

"I think everybody on this side of the stadium heard me yelling after she made it," Goodale said. "She really took care of business out there."

Porter waited until her third and final try before she cleared the 10-foot mark.

"I told Emma that she had already clinched a top four spot [and a sectional qualification] and that she didn't have to go for 10 feet," Goodale said. "But Emma said that she wanted to go for first. She stayed aggressive, and I felt so good for her when she made it.

"I keep telling Emma that she is a pole vaulter. She has everything it takes to be a good vaulter. She has been fighting some leg problems for a while, but she put it all together today at a great time."

Porter looks forward to making a run at the school record of 10-6, which is held by Becky Komerech.

"This was a goal, but I would like to go higher," Porter said. "My goal now would be to make it to the state meet. That would be overwhelming."

The top four finishers from this Saturday's sectional meet in Farmington will qualify for the state meet the following weekend in Jefferson City.

Mixed results for boys

Central senior Lance Altenthal will not be making a return trip to the state Meet. He was not able to clear his opening height of 13 feet.

"Any other day, it would not have been a problem for Lance," Goodale said. "He is an outstanding vaulter and an outstanding kid. It just didn't work out for him today."

Central junior Matt Willingham captured the boys title, clearing 14-6. That was a foot higher than Lindbergh senior Jim Benson.

"Matt is such a student of the pole vault," Goodale said. "He has the ability to go out there tomorrow and clear 16 feet. I think he will break the school record either this year or next year if he can stay healthy."

The boys record at Cape Central is 15-6, held by Jim Fox. Willingham has a personal best of 15-0, which he cleared this year at the Poplar Bluff Invitational. He was also a state qualifier last season.

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