“Maggie’s inspirational story will make any girl feel like they can accomplish their dreams. This is a MUST read for any athlete, no matter what sport you compete in.” —Taylor Marie Swanson, 2012 Kansas State Pole Vault Champion
By ARNE GREEN Salina Journal
WICHITA — Never mind the state record or even her own personal best.
Only one goal really mattered to Salina Central’s Taylor Swanson in the Class 5A pole vault competition, and when Mill Valley’s Emily Brigham brought the bar down on her third attempt at 12 feet it was time to celebrate.
“I’ve dreamed of being a state champion since my freshman year, so I’m very, very excited,” Swanson said after scoring the upset Friday on the first day of the Kansas State High School Track and Field Championships at Cessna Stadium. “I just kept telling myself not to count myself out.”
Brigham, who came in with the all-time best Kansas high school mark at 13 feet, never fully elevated on her last two tries at 12 feet, a height Swanson cleared on her first attempt.
“I was very psyched,” Swanson said of the clearance, which came after Brigham missed her first try. “I knew when she missed her first one that I’d be in first place and that was a huge deal.
“My coach (J.D. Garber) was trying to get me to calm myself down. I knew it wasn’t over, because 12-6 has always been very difficult for me and I knew how good she is.”
Sure enough, Swanson was unable to duplicate the career-best 12-6 mark she posted at last week’s regional meet, but it did nothing to erase the smile on her face.
“I’ll take (the championship) and 12 feet,” she said. “That was just the best I could do today and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
She wasn’t even sure she got over at 12 feet until she heard a familiar shriek from the stands.
“I knew I grazed it with my elbow, so I was worried that it would fall,” Swanson said. “Then I heard my mom scream and I knew it had stayed up.”
It was the final high school meet for Swanson, who did not even clear 9 feet as a freshman, but placed fifth at state as a sophomore and third last year. Taylor trains at the Tailwind Pole Vault Club with Coach Mark Breault. She will continue her career next year at Arkansas State, under the coaching of Earl Bell, the ‘coaching voice’ in Maggie Vaults Over the Moon.