By Bill Choy

Triplicate Sports Editor

As she sat in a Starbucks after visiting the San Diego State University campus a few weeks back, Kelsey Hintz told her mother she had made her decision.

andquot;This is it,andquot; she said.

Kelsey, a Del Norte High senior who placed second in the girls pole vault at the state finals last June, will head to sunny San Diego this fall on a track and field scholarship.

andquot;I'm very happy,andquot; Kelsey said Thursday. andquot;It's a big relief. It's just exciting to know it's done.andquot;

Hintz will make it official on Tuesday, when she signs her letter of intent to join the Aztecs of the Mountain West Conference at a signing party in front of her friends and family at her home.

andquot;It's going to be a celebration,andquot; said her mother, Pam Hintz. andquot;It's something that doesn't happen often.andquot;

Kelsey wrestled with her choice, narrowing her final two schools to SDSU and the University of California at Berkeley.

Both programs heavily recruited her to be a pole vaulter.

While Kelsey said she liked Cal's pole vault coach and the idea of competing in the Pac-10, in the end, she felt San Diego State was a better fit for her.

andquot;It's more me,andquot; she said.

Kelsey said she really liked the coaching staff and her fellow women's pole vaulters at SDSU. She knew many of them, since she had previously competed with them during her high school career. Kelsey spoke fondly of the campus, the sunny weather and the overall feel of the school and the community. She said she felt like San Diego would be the place she would enjoy the most during her college career.

Kelsey had made a verbal commitment to SDSU shortly before Christmas.

But during a pole vaulting event in Reno, Nev., in January, she ran into the UC Berkeley coach, who tried to convince her to reconsider.

Kelsey then decided to weigh all her options and pondered her final choice until her visit to the SDSU campus sealed her final decision. She even canceled a visit to Berkeley scheduled for the following weekend.

andquot;I'm excited and proud of her,andquot; Del Norte head track coach Scott Lindsay said. andquot;I think she made a great decision for her future.andquot;

To his knowledge, it has been awhile since someone from the Warrior track and cross country programs has gotten a scholarship from a four-year school. The last one he could think of was in 2000, when Amber Simmons, a distance runner, accepted a scholarship to Cal Poly.

andquot;It's a big honor,andquot; Lindsay said about Hintz's scholarship. andquot;It's a big deal anytime you go on to Division I and get recruited. It's exciting.andquot;

Hintz thanked Lindsay and David Bokor. Bokor has coached Hintz since she was a freshman and told her for quite some time he felt she had what it took to pole vault for a D-1 school.

andquot;He believed in her,andquot; Pam Hintz said.

Kelsey said both coaches have been totally supportive and are andquot;behind her 100 percent.andquot;

The Aztecs have a good track program and a few years ago, one of the female pole vaulters finished second in the nation.

Kelsey is expected to contribute to the team her first season there. She said she currently has the second best vault mark on the SDSU team with a personal best jump of 12 feet, 10 inches.

Hintz is currently practicing with the rest of the Warrior track and field team for the upcoming season, which begins March 1. Her top goal this year is to head back to state, but this time finish in first.

Pam Hintz said she is extremely proud of all her daughter has accomplished and said this shows others in the community that through hard work and determination they can fulfill their dreams.

andquot;It gives me the chills,andquot; she said.