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Warrior track steps up at state

Maloney third in pole vault, 4x800 team sets school record

Staff writer

The state track meet is a different environment.

At most track meets, the pole vault area is somewhat isolated, usually near the other field events. At Cessna stadium, it’s in the middle of the infield. Distractions abound, with races going on to the vaulter’s right and other athletes warming up just a few yards away to the left. The crowd, paying attention to the race, can be deafening.

On top of this, Marion junior pole vaulter Alicia Maloney was feeling the adrenaline course through her body as she waited to vault.

“It’s pretty exciting to come to the state track meet,” she said. “You’re one of the best of the best.”

In pole vault, maintaining a consistent, controlled approach is crucial to success. Pole vault coach Jerry Smith and head coach Grant Thierolf took it upon themselves to help Maloney loosen up before jumps.

Thierolf first promised Maloney a candy bar if she cleared 10 feet. He then upped the ante. He said he would take her to the country concert of her choice if she cleared 10-6, which would have been a new personal best.

“I don’t think he was actually going to take her,” Smith said. “He was just trying to get her to not worry about the vault.”

After two very close misses at 10 feet, Maloney cleared the mark. She could not make it over 10-6, eventually placing third in the event.

With Maloney’s top three placement on Saturday, Thierolf remarked that she is about to enter a very important offseason.

“She’s already one of the best vaulters in 3A, the goal is to be one of the best vaulters in the entire state,” he said.

Maloney has already come a long way. Smith remembers her regional meet her freshman year. She was disappointed about missing her final vault of the competition.

“You can be bummed out, but you can’t be too disappointed because you’re going to state,” he said.

She went back to the state competition her sophomore year and she has improved her marks each season.

Noticeable with Maloney is her strength. She said she worked on abdominals last season; core muscles are important for the balance required to land vaults.

Smith marveled that Maloney used a 150-pound pole for the first time this past week, after previously using a 140-pound pole.

“She’s a pretty strong girl,” he said. “She’s a farm girl.”

He said one of her goals would be to move up to a 15-foot pole next year. The added foot requires the vaulter to wait and control the bend over an extended period.

With the aspiration to be a state champion next season, Maloney also wants to set an example for other vaulters. This season teammate Kirsten Hansen joined her at the state meet. As a freshman, Hansen has vaulted higher than Maloney in her first-year campaign.

Like Maloney, all of the Marion competitors stepped up at the state meet. All of competitors earned at least an eighth place medal. It took a third-place finish in the 4x400-meter relay, 4:14.43, late on Saturday by Katey Ehrlich, Hansen, Kelli Hess, and Marshelle Mermis to end the meet for all the female competitors to achieve that distinction.

Last modified May 30, 2013

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