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The student news site of Western Albemarle High School - Crozet, VA

The Western Hemisphere

The student news site of Western Albemarle High School - Crozet, VA

The Western Hemisphere

The student news site of Western Albemarle High School - Crozet, VA

The Western Hemisphere

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WAHS Pole Vaulting Jumps High

Pole+vaulter+Raina+Fitzwater+chats+with+teammates+Carter+Boyd%2C+Evie+Woodrow%2C+and+Helen+%0AMoak.+At+the+first+meet+of+the+season%2C+three+Western+pole+vaulters%2C+Raina+Fitzwater%2C+Helen+%0AMoak%2C+and+Caroline+Pearson%2C+qualified+for+states.
Credit: Raina Fitzwater
Pole vaulter Raina Fitzwater chats with teammates Carter Boyd, Evie Woodrow, and Helen Moak. At the first meet of the season, three Western pole vaulters, Raina Fitzwater, Helen Moak, and Caroline Pearson, qualified for states.

While most students at Western do not know about how good the Western pole vaulting team is, the team already has had a great start to their season. At the mini meet at Fork Union Military Academy on December 5, the top three girls were all from Western Albemarle. Even more impressively, they all qualified for the state meet. Raina Fitzwater cleared 12 feet to place first. When a person vaults a certain amount of feet, that is how far the bar was above the ground. Fitzwater’s vault of 12 feet ranks her second in Virginia to all divisions of schools. Clearly, the pole vaulting team is going to do big things this season. 

The vaulters themselves are very proud of the team’s achievements. “Western is way better than other schools at vaulting,” says Nathan Peterson, junior and a leader on the boys team. Raina Fitzwater, junior and leader of the girls team, says “Western has a great pole vault program that produces high competitive heights.”

Peterson started pole vaulting a year ago because of his interest in decathlons, and pole vaulting specifically. A decathlon is an event where the athlete completes ten events: the 100-meter dash, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400-meter dash, 110-meter hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin, and 1,500-meter run. Fitzwater’s interest in pole vaulting began in her eighth grade year, when she started pole vaulting because her older teammates from her gymnastics team were pole vaulting. 

Peterson and Fitzwater train for their sport intensely. “We have six track practices a week to improve speed, one to two strength practices to get stronger, and two vaulting practices a week to work on form,” says Peterson. The Western team has practice two to three times a week in the morning for one to two hours, and a practice on Saturday for three hours.

Fitzwater enjoys the challenge of always being able to reach higher heights, which is her favorite thing about the sport. Peterson’s favorite thing about the sport is “the adrenaline of going high up in the air and then clearing the bar.” 

Both Peterson and Fitzwater agree that while pole vaulting personal records are individual, pole vaulting is still a team sport. “We all learn from each other and make each other better,” Peterson says. Fitzwater says that the pole vaulting team “support[s] each other” and their points go to the entire track and field team.

Peterson thinks that the form is the most challenging part of pole vaulting. “It is an extremely technical event in track and field.” But for Fitzwater, the mental aspect is the trickiest part. Fitzwater says she has trouble “trusting myself on larger poles.”

Fitzwater and Peterson are excited for a good season for the team. Peterson says that he is “excited to jump high and see my teammates jump high!” Fitzwater accomplished her goal for the indoor season, breaking the old 2006 record and vaulting 12’8”.

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About the Contributor
Claire Contiliano
Claire Contiliano, Staff Writer
Claire is a freshman at WAHS. Outside of school, she likes running and swimming and hanging out with friends.
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