When junior Emma King joined the track and field team at Oakdale High School, her coach Chris Heinze knew what he had immediately in the pole-vaulter.
“The first day I met her, I told the head coaches she could break a state record,” Heinze said. “I knew her brother [Kevin] who was fast. I met with her about five minutes and found out about her gymnastics background. I knew about her attitude and that she trained hard and she was a very bright girl, so I knew she had the smarts. It was obvious to me at the time that she was going to do a good job.”
King’s moment of destiny came in Monday’s Maryland Class 2A/1A Indoor Track and Field Championships in Landover after she cleared her entering vault of 10 feet, 6 inches. After all of her competitors were eliminated, King first set her sights on the Class 2A state meet record of 11-1, owned by Urbana High graduate Lauren Graff. King faltered on her first attempt, but nailed her second try by what appeared to be well over one foot.
The next mark was the overall state meet record of 11-9. King didn’t make the first jump, but got it right on the second try to clear 11-9.5 and cement her position in the state record books.
After having established a personal record of 12-3 at the 2A West Region championships, King tried 12-2, but failed to clear it.
King had to battle through an injury-plagued 2010-11 indoor season, and her various back and hip ailments forced her to miss the entire 2011 outdoor season.
Afterward, an emotional King talked about much of her athletic life leading up to her record-breaking moment.
“Ever since I was 3 years old when I started gymnastics, I didn’t know it, but I was working toward getting a pole vault record,” King said. “I’ve been working my butt off for this every day, and I’ve always been determined and this has been the buildup of many years, not just high school.”
High jump tradition continues at Catoctin
It’s not often that a high school athlete has the opportunity to learn from one of the best in her event in state history. But Catoctin High senior Hannah Stone has had such a chance.
Stone’s coach, Kathy Messner, holds the overall Maryland indoor and outdoor high jump record of 5-9, which she established in 1998.
After graduating from Catoctin, Messner went on to jump at Penn State, and after college she stepped away from the sport. But in 2008, when Stone won the state high jump title as a freshman, she caught Messner’s eye.
“I read about her after she won a state title in her freshman year and I started following her,” Messner said. “I had the chance to meet her and I liked her. I was hooked and I thought it would be great to work with her.”
On Monday, the second year of their collaboration culminated in Stone winning the Maryland Class 1A state title in the high jump (5-6).
At January’s Frederick County Championships, Stone broke Messner’s county record jump of 5-8 by clearing 5-8.25. Stone attempted to break Messner’s state record but failed to clear 5-8.
“It’s an amazing opportunity because not every athlete has the chance to have their coach come back to their [alma mater] and be able to break their records,” Stone said. “I started track when I was in third grade and saw her name on the record boards so I always wanted to meet her. It was kind of crazy to meet her because it was like my idol was talking to me.”
Walkersville has two winners
Walkersville junior Scott Berryman left quite the impression on his coaches leading up to his race in the Class 2A 800 meters.
“That kid works so hard and nothing has been given to him,” said Walkersville coach Lee Palmer. “He trains like a wild man. Whether he’s injured or sick, he goes out and eats the track up.”
Berryman put that toughness on display by winning his first state title with a personal-record time of 2 minutes, 1.22 seconds in the 800.
“I don’t know how I did it, I’ve just been practicing harder,” Berryman said. “I knew this race was the last of my season and I did what I could and my goal was to not be able to walk.”
Walkersville also got a first-place finish from sophomore Megan Mounts in the girls’ shot put with a throw of 36-9, 11 inches more than the second-place competitor.