By Kyle LoJacono
Rain poured down and wind swirled during the Class 3A state track and field meet May 3 at the University of North Florida.
Few competitors were able to put up their best performances because of the conditions, especially pole vaulters because of their grip, speed and steps being affected by the weather.
Wiregrass Ranch sophomore Casey Chitty didn’t let the weather slow her down. In fact, she matched her personal record (PR) of 9-feet, 6-inches to take sixth in her first state appearance.
“I actually do pretty well in bad conditions like this,” Chitty said. “I got my PR in a meet when it was raining and the wind was blowing just like this. I figure everyone has to jump in the same conditions, so it doesn’t really bother me.”
What was a bigger obstacle were her nerves.
“I didn’t think I’d get a medal, not at all,” Chitty said. “I was seeded almost last, and I really thought I’d get ninth or worse, so I’m so happy with what I did. … In warm-ups I was feeling a little bit nervous, but I tried to treat it like it was any other meet.”
Bob Leidel, Chitty’s coach with Florida Pole Vault Academy, said she has “really progressed very well” since joining the club two years ago.
“The only issue is when she goes to vault she’s not standing up as tall as she needs to, so when the pole snaps her up it’s sending her into the bar instead of right over it,” Leidel said. “That’s something that we will be able to fix with more practice.”
Chitty said the performance gives her confidence for the next two years.
“To get sixth at states as a sophomore, never thought that would be possible,” Chitty said.
Wiregrass Ranch senior Elijah Boston placed eighth in the boys discus throw (149-06), becoming the first in program history to earn a state medal in the event.
“Honestly, I’m just happy to have made the finals,” Boston said. “With this weather, and so many good throwers, I didn’t think I’d make it this far.”
—Follow Kyle LoJacono on Twitter: @Kyle_Laker
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