Defending champion Brittany Linkous of Tennessee High clears the bar during early action in Thursday's pole vault competition at the 32nd Times-News Relays at Dobyns-Bennett. Photo by Kris Wilson.
KINGSPORT — They came in as champions and left with the crowns still firmly atop their heads.
Tennessee High’s Brittany Linkous and Dobyns-Bennett’s Tyler Robinson successfully defended their respective titles Thursday in the 32nd Times-News Relays pole vault competition.
Linkous, a senior, won in style by setting a meet record of 9-2. She broke the previous mark of 9-1 set by D-B’s Brittany Brewster in 2006.
The Lady Indians’ Katrina Lahair finished second on fewer misses at 8-0 with Tennessee High’s Maddie Gilmer third (8-0).
After eliminating the competition when she cleared 8-6, Linkous immediately went for the record. She cleared the bar on her first attempt.
“I was hesitant at first because last year I went for it right away and didn’t get over the bar,’’ Linkous said. “My approach wasn’t as strong as I wanted, but when I landed in the pit and the bar was still up there I was so excited.’’
Linkous, a diabetic, sees that as motivation, not a handicap.
“I’ve dealt with it for five years,’’ she said. “It just pushes me to do better. I don’t let it hold me back.’’
Robinson and Winkle have pushed each other all season. At the Dan Crowe Relays, Winkle cleared 14-6 while Robinson went second at 14-0.
On this day it was Robinson’s turn to soar highest.
Both vaulters came in at 12-0, cleared that and moved the bar up to 13-0. Again both cleared the height with ease.
Robinson missed on his first attempt at 13-6 but made it on his second. Winkle, moving back and forth between poles, missed on all three of his attempts.
Moving the bar to 14-1 for a shot at the meet record of 14-0, Robinson could not get dialed in on any of his three attempts.
“I had hoped to get the record but got a little tired on the last couple of vaults,’’ Robinson said. “But winning today gives me confidence going into next week’s sectionals here at D-B.’’
Winkle took the loss in stride.
“Tyler and I have pushed each other to vault 2 feet higher than last year,’’ he said. “I was playing musical poles today. I’ve got to settle on one, man up and just go with it.’’
Science Hill’s Luke Norris finished third in the boys vault at 11-6.