Taylor Alexander reigns again in state pole vault
Ryan Summerlin May 15, 2014
DENVER — The sun rose in the east on Thursday. In a related development, an Alexander won the 1A state pole-vaulting title.
Vail Christian sophomore Taylor Alexander went 11 feet, 8 inches on Thursday. That was the new 1A state-meet record, breaking her own mark from last year. And, the 1A state-meet record has been held by only two people — Taylor and her older sister, Kylie, who have won the event four years running.
“I was overwhelmed with excitement,” Taylor said. “I came down and laid there to take it in for a minute. ‘Did I just clear that?’ I can’t explain how excited I was.”
She wasn’t the only one. Tim Pierson is the track and field coach at Vail Christian, but vaulting is the province of Charlie Alexander, aka Dad. Mom is Cathy Alexander, who is the only volleyball coach the Saints have ever had, and she was there cheering. And Kylie was back from Concordia University Irvine, where she has finished her sophomore year.
“The family experience is the best part,” Taylor said. “We all know the sport. To have a (personal record) and my family there to support me is amazing.”
Taylor hurt her right shoulder in warm-ups about a month ago. This happened just after she was just getting over a hamstring mishap. She didn’t vault at the Joe Shields Invitational at West Grand, nor at the Battle Mountain Invite, nor at regionals last weekend in Grand Junction.
“We had to convince her not to jump,” Charlie said. “It was hard to convince her. State is what it’s all about. Early this week, she said, ‘I am jumping Thursday.’ I said, ‘I know you are.’”
Taylor entered the competition at 9-6, shook off the worry about her shoulder and cleared the bar. She won the state title with a jump of 10-6.
At that point, Charlie wanted Taylor to go up to 11-8. Taylor decided to go at 11-2 and then 11-8. She got the former on her third try, and the latter on her second.
“I don’t know what to say. We’re both college athletes,” said Charlie of himself and his beloved, Cathy. “Coaching our kids is special. Sometimes, I cause some interesting family dynamics, but it’s what we do, and we have a blast with it.”
And not that anyone was comparing or anything, Loveland senior Heather Waite won the 5A pole vault with an 11-9.
Miss Smith and Master Pence
This needs some clarification. Vail Christian’s Celia Smith is a superb athlete. The Saints senior finished second in Thursday’s pole vault at 10 feet. This is the second year in a row she’s been overshadowed by the Alexander Family Circus. For some reason, she did not come out of the womb with a pole-vault pole in one arm.
In fact, Smith’s only been pole vaulting for two years, so two state medals in the discipline is quite the accomplishment. She is a quick study in any sport, as coach Cathy Alexander saw in the fall as Smith became an all-league middle blocker in just one season.
“I love that girl,” Charlie said. “She does the high jump and other events. I pulled her out and said, ‘Try pole vaulting.’ She killed it. Her PR is 10-6, which is higher than the old state-meet record. I know it’s not recognized. But Celia has jumped so well, and I’m so proud of her.”
Meanwhile, Ethan Pence is the Iron Man this weekend. All he’s doing is the 3,200, the 1,600, the 800 and the 1,600 relay. He picked up bronze in the 3,200 on Thursday.
“Ethan comes from a running family,” Pierson said. “He runs year round and plays some basketball in the winter. He has a busy weekend, and he kicked it off pretty solid. He PR’ed the two-mile by 18 seconds and this is a good place and time to do it.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.