By Bill Choy

Triplicate Sports Editor

When it mattered most, with her dreams of making it to the finals in jeopardy, Kelsy Hintz stepped-up to the challenge and succeeded.

The Del Norte High junior, competing in the girls pole vault at the State Track and Field Championships in Sacramento on Friday, was the final girl to earn one of nine spots in the finals, which will be held today.

andquot;It was really intense,andquot; she said.

Friday was a challenging day for Hintz, who placed fifth in the pole vault at state last year.

Things did not start out well when Hintz broke her pole. But she did not let it get to her.

Head coach Scott Lindsay said she could have let it get to her, but she was able to mentally focus, which he said was key in her getting over Friday's rough patches.

After making 11-9 feet on her first attempt, things became more difficult when she failed to make 12-3 feet with her three attempts.

The attempt of 11-9 feet andquot;went smooth,andquot; Hintz said. andquot;Then I attempted 12-3 feet and I just couldn't get upside down or inverted.andquot;

While seven girls made 12-3 feet, three participants, including Hintz, made 11-9 on their first try.

With two slots remaining in the finals, a jump-off was called.

The jump-off began at 12-3 feet. Hintz and another girl missed, while the third made her jump to move on.

The bar was then moved to 12 feet. Again, both Hintz and the other competitor could not make the height.

When it was lowered to 11-9 feet, Hintz made her attempt while the other vaulter missed, sending Hintz to the finals. Lindsay said he was proud of how Hintz held tough and was able to come up with a way to make it to the finals.

andquot;It shows how mentally tough she is,andquot; he said about how Hintz dealt with what took place on Friday.

Hintz said she is glad to be back in the state finals for the second straight year.

Coming into state, she had set a goal to make 13 feet and finish higher than her fifth place finish last year.

Hintz said she is still focused on giving it her best shot today.

andquot;I'm still determined,andquot; Hintz said. andquot;We'll see.andquot;

Lindsay said he believes Hintz can still met her goals.

andquot;That's what we're shooting for,andquot; he said.