By Bill Choy
Triplicate Sports Editor
Showing a tenacity and resolve well beyond her 16 years, Kelsy Hintz was able to put aside a rough day on Friday to earn a triumphant second place finish in the girls pole vault at the State Track and Field Championships in Sacramento on Saturday.
She was able to clear 12-10 feet, her highest mark ever in competition, to earn the second place finish and to solidify her place as one of the top girls pole vaulters in the state.
On Friday, Hintz, a junior at Del Norte High School, barely qualified for finals and was the last of the nine girls to gain a spot, having to participate in a jump-off to make it to Saturday.
Assistant track coach David Bokor, who has worked closely with Hintz, said he was proud of how she set aside her difficulties from Friday, which included breaking a pole in warm-ups and almost not making it, and going out and giving her best performance of her career.
"She did a great job," he said. "She's the consummate competitor. When push came to shove and she was up against the wall, she performed like a champion."
Smashing her fifth place finish in state last year, Hintz said she was ecstatic to do so well.
"I'm just very happy and pleased," she said. "It was a great experience. I loved every minute of it, even when it was stressful."
Hintz said she she felt great when she woke up Saturday and said she just had a "good feeling" that it would be a good day for her.
"I just knew," she said, adding warm-ups went really well
"I didn't break my pole," she said with a laugh. "Everything was right on."
Since she was ninth the day before, Hintz had to go first in all her jump attempts. She started by passing on her first distance of 11-4 and clearing 11-10 on her first attempt.
"She looked really good," head coach Scott Lindsay said, adding he was proud of her focus and resolve to do well on Saturday.
The next jump was 12-4. Hintz missed her first attempt.
"I was like OK, no repeats (from Friday). I wasn't going to let it happen,"' Hintz said.
She proved herself right and nailed her second jump
The next attempt was 12-10. Her previous best showing was 12-7 feet in Grants Pass, Ore., this year. Hintz was able to make the jump on her first attempt.
"I kind of knew I had it when I went over," Hintz said. "I was so ecstatic."
She was not the only one who became excited.
"Everyone jumped up and down," Lindsay said. "We knew she could do it. It was very exciting."
As has been the case all season, her family and friends were at the meet to cheer her on, including her grandparents and mother Pam Hintz.
To see her daughter do so well and fulfill her goals was something she'll never forget, Pam Hintz said.
"I don't think it's sunk in yet," she said. "It's just been an amazing ride."
She added when her daughter jumped 12-10 she "Stood up and screamed...It was her dream. For her to have that opportunity and achieve it is wonderful."
She added it meant a lot to her and Kelsy to have many friends and family rooting for Kelsy and being there for her all year.
Fellow Del Norte pole vaulter Taylor Duncan and his family came to cheer Hintz on at state. On Saturday morning, Pam said Kelsy received flowers from the Cink family, who have two daughters in track and field at Del Norte High, wishing her luck, and wrote that regardless of how she did, they were proud of her.
After making her 12-10 feet jump, the majority of the girls missed until only three were left standing. Tori Anthony of Castilleja in Palo Alto, Hintz and Natasha Barthel of St. Francis in Mountain View.
The height was raised to 13-4 feet. In the end, although coming close, Hintz could not hit 13-4, while Anthony, a senior considered one of the best pole vaulters in the nation and UCLA bound, hit 14-1 feet to gain first. That feat set a national high school outdoor record.
Because Hintz nailed 12-10 on her first attempt and Barthel did not, Hintz earned second.
For Hintz, it was an honor to compete against the best pole vaulters in the state and said she was pleased to compete against someone like Anthony, who she added was quite gracious to her, even cheering Hintz on in the finals. She added she did the same thing for Anthony.
Before coming to state, Hintz had hoped to reach 13-feet. Although she did not do that, she said she believes if the height was at 13-feet, she would had made it and said she was proud of what she achieved. It really hit her when she was standing on the podium during the medals ceremony.
Hintz said her goals for her senior year are to "keep getting higher and improving."