Riverview High senior Madison Schmidt cleared 10 feet, 6 inches to win the pole vault event at the Class 4A-District 7 meet April 17, at Spoto High.
It was Schmidt’s fourth win of the season after she took more than a month off because of a back injury.
With the win, Schmidt, who bested her opponents by two feet, qualified for the Class 4A-Region 2 meet April 24, at Leto High.
Schmidt finished fifth in the pole vault at the regional meet last year. The top four finishers in the event will earn a berth in the FHSAA Track and Field Finals May 4.
Following this season, Schmidt plans to further her track-and-field career at Florida State University, where she will be a walk-on.
"I did gymnastics for six years, but I wasn’t enjoying the sport. I was volunteering at the YMCA, and one of my past teammates got into pole vault. You have control of your body’s strength, and it sounded really fun. I made up my mind that I was going to stop gymnastics and at least try it.
The first time I did pole vault in a meet was kind of scary. I didn’t have the record yet. Everyone was watching. It’s a completely different pressure than I was used to in gymnastics, but I got hooked on it. At first, I didn’t really understand what I was doing, but there was about a month into it when it just clicked and I got it.
When I got the school record of 11-6 (March 1), I was really excited. It was the first thing that came to mind when I cleared the bar, and I celebrated the entire way down to the mat. It was the first time I actually had time on the way down to celebrate.
I’m not big on setting goals. I want to ride it out and see how far I can go, and however far that is I’ll be happy with it. This year is a lot about having fun. Last year, I let my head get in the way.
Pole vault has taught me to trust in myself. You can’t be in the middle of a vault and decide to not do it. "