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State Champion

“I’m so tired!” Everybody complained as we piled on the coach bus at six o’clock in the morning. Drowsily the MHS track and field athletes who qualified for states shuffled down the aisle into the waiting cushioned seats. The only thing on everyone’s mind was getting comfortable for the three hour ride to Burlington. As soon as the bus started moving, all of us fell asleep. Anybody awake on the bus would have seen twenty or so athletes passed out in awkward positions on the seats. Lying across two seats I could feel every bump the bus went over. Trying to ignore the constant movement, I fell into a light snooze.

I woke up to the sound of girls exclaiming, “Oh my gosh! I have to pee so badly!” It was a strange coincidence that all of the girls on the bus woke up at the same time and all had to pee. I knew we were almost to Burlington at this point because I saw the statue of two black whale tails coming out of the hill on the side of the road. This has always been a marker for me that lets me know we’re getting close to Lake Champlain. As we entered the city of Burlington the deep low humming sound of a didgeridoo filled the bus. I looked up to see Jay (one of our four coaches) sitting nearby blowing across the long tube-like instrument, trying to wake us up. The remaining people sleeping jolted awake with confused expressions on their faces. I looked out the window to see The Ski Rack store, then The Echo Museum, and finally the familiar sight of a red ring around a football field.

The first thing I noticed when stepping off of the bus were the brightly colored track tents littering the green grass. The next feature I saw was the massive amount of spectators and athletes on the track and in the stands. Purple was mixed into the sea of colors as we put up our tent and spread out to warm-up. Music was pouring out of the speakers on the stands and setting the atmosphere. There was a certain spark in the air of excitement and energy. This was the largest, most important, and last track meet of the season. A whole spring of training and smaller meets leads up to this one. This was my time to shine.

High jump was to be one of the first events of the meet and the first event I was competing in. “First call… girls high jump” emanated from the loud speaker. Track spikes on my feet and measuring tapes in hand I headed over to the large square high jump apron. Twelve feet to the side and forty nine feet back. I measured out where my take off point would be. “Second call… girls high jump”. With a few practice jumps under my belt I was ready to begin. “Third and final call girls high jump”. All of the jumpers were now gathered on the apron waiting for the instructions and rules talk from the official. I glanced around the circle at my opponents and saw familiar faces from previous meets. A sensation started in my gut; I couldn’t tell if it was nerves or excitement, maybe a mixture of both. The official explained the rules but I was only half listening because I already knew how high jump worked. All of us did. “Ok girls. That’s it. Good luck”. I was prepared and eager to start. Here we go.

Four feet six inches was the starting height and I knew I could easily clear that. As I suspected, I floated over the bar with ease. The next height was four feet eight inches. To my surprise I cleared the bar on my first attempt. It caught me off guard because in the past it has taken me two or three tries. With twelve or so girls left, the bar was raised to four feet ten inches. This was my personal record. I had only made it once before. If I could make this height then I knew I had a good chance at placing. On my first attempt a pang of disappointment hit me as I felt the bar knock off of the stand. The second try another wave of fear crashed over me as the bar hit the ground. I had one attempt left and if I couldn’t make it then I would be out. I stared at the bar and thought to myself Come on Helen. You didn’t come all this way to jump twice. You can do this. I got into my starting position and did my usual rocking back and forth on my left leg. This is it Helen. This is your chance. I took off at a five step sprint, one…two…one-two-THREE! Every muscle in my body strained as I sprang into the air then arched my back over the bar. When I landed on the mat I realized that I hadn’t felt or heard the bar hit the ground, instead that sound was replaced by cheering. I leaped off the mat and ran over to my high jump coach. Adrenaline pumped through my body as she embraced me. “I knew you could do it,” she said into my ear, “That was a beautiful jump.”
The next height after that was five feet. I had never made it over that height before although I had faced it a few times in the past. I thought since I was jumping so well that day, maybe I could set a new personal record. With all my might, I tried to soar over the bar. My first two jumps weren’t very close but my third try I felt my heel knick the bar off the stand. I couldn’t believe I had gotten that close to jumping over five feet. Even though I was out, I stayed to watch to see how high the other girls could jump. The girl who placed first jumped five feet two inches.

For the next hour I kept walking over to the wall where they were posting results and looking for high jump. Before I could check for about the fifth time the loud speaker came on and announced “Could the following athletes please report to the awards tent”. As soon as I heard my name I half ran to the tent. I did it! I placed! I didn’t know what place I had gotten but it did not matter to me at that point. Six jumpers were lead from the tent into the middle of the football field where there was an empty six leveled podium. Again the loud speaker came on, “Would everyone please direct your attention to the middle of the field for the girls high jump awards”. In sixth place with a height of four feet ten inches, Helen M.” Satisfaction filled me as I stepped onto the podium. I could hear the screams and cheers of my teammates. I stood there motionless taking in every aspect of that moment. Scanning the fan-filled stands I allowed my name to echo in my head. A woman handed me a green dog tag which I immediately put around my neck. It read “2010 Vermont Track & Field State Championship”. I was so caught up in the moment I hardly heard the names of the other five placers.

For the rest of the day I wore the dog tag with great pride. I only took it off when I had to triple jump. I ended up placing thirteenth in triple jump but that didn’t bother me because I was the sixth best high jumper in the state. Words can’t describe what I felt standing on the podium. That moment in time will be remembered for the rest of my life. As an athlete that was the best moment of my career. I was only a sophomore and already placing at states. Everybody was proud and excited for me. Who knows what high jump will hold for me in the future. Maybe I’ll be first in the state by my senior year.





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