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Hirst, Smith kick off Times-News Relays with pole vault wins

May 1st, 2014 8:40 pm by Pat Kenney

Hirst, Smith kick off Times-News Relays with pole vault wins

Times-News photo by Ned Jilton II

JOHNSON CITY — The 36th Times-News Relays started off with a bang Thursday.

Science Hill's Savannah Hirst shattered the meet record in the girls pole vault when she cleared the bar with a leap of 10-6. The previous record was 9-6 set last year by Dobyns-Bennett's Jamie Almeria.

The Lady Hilltoppers' Hannah Bowman finished second (10-0) while Almeria and Daniel Boone's Abby Howe were tied for third at 9-0.

In the boys competition, top seeded Jarod Smith of University School of Johnson City lapped the field with a vault of 13-0.
Science Hill's Jake Laughlin was second (11-6) while the Hilltoppers' Ivan Whitman finished third (11-0).

Hirst came into the event with the top qualifying vault of 10-6. She started her competition at 9-0 and cleared four straight heights before failing on her three attempts at 11-0.

"I was comfortable clearing 10-6," said Hirst, a junior. "To go higher you have to be adventurous, be patient and have a good attitude.

"I come out each day with the attitude to do my best and just see what happens. I think with a little more practice I can go higher."

Bowman, who is a freshman and a diver on the Lady Hilltoppers swim team, is in her first year of vaulting. She had a personal best in the competition by a foot.

"My teammates were encouraging me and that helped a lot today," said Bowman. "Maybe being a diver allows me to be more comfortable when I'm inverted and that allows me to go higher."

Smith had qualified with a vault of 13-6 so he was not a stranger to going high. But it was not in the cards on Thursday for him to get a shot at the meet record of 14-0 set by D-B's Brandon Lawson in 2007.

"I would liked to have gone higher but I liked the way I vaulted today," said Smith. "As you try to go higher it's the little things that make a difference. Right now I need to polish my form and clean up a couple of things.

"You also have to be totally committed and focused to make it as the bar gets higher."

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