Emma King won the pole vault at the Don Boyer Invitational on Saturday with 12 feet 10 inches, the highest clearance by a high school girl in Maryland state history.
The Oakdale junior All-Met entered the competition at 10-6, a foot higher than what the runner-up finished with, and blew through five more heights before finally bowing out at 13 feet. Eleven feet, 12, 12-6, 12-8 and finally the state-record clearance posed no problems for King. She set a new personal best by seven inches and solidified herself as Maryland’s greatest female prep vaulter on a sunny day at Middletown High.
“That’s just huge,” King said.
King also placed second in the 400 meters in 58.83 and contributed a leg on Oakdale’s 4x100 relay. In the pole vault, she shredded the record previously owned by Urbana’s Lauren Graf, who set it at 12-7.25 at Penn Relays in 2002.
King will take the same trip to Penn Relays in Philadelphia later this month and she will try to prove herself against against a competitive, international field. She is confident she can win. The 16-year-old has been on a tear in the last two months, setting the Maryland indoor state record (12-3) at the 2A West Region championships before winning her second straight indoor state title with a state-meet record in February.
She took things to new heights on Saturday.
“That freefall, all vaulters talk about it,” King said. “It’s the best feeling. You know you’re over the bar and you get that short little ride down to the mat and it feels amazing.
“I noticed it a lot [Saturday].”
This time last year King didn’t believe she could accomplish any of the things she’s achieved recently. An injury to her lower back and hips wrapped her body in pain and last outdoor season was lost before it even began. During class, she would constantly shift in her seat to try to get comfortable. Doctors gave her a round of cortisone injections in her back.
“With a back injury, you never know. It can be very serious and it can take people out of their sport and their dreams,” King said. “This is my life; this is everything I work for. I wasn’t sure I could get back where I was and surpass it. You have to be mentally strong and with the injury it’s been hard to stay strong. But with every [improvement] my confidence level rises.”