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Sports

April 26, 2014

Rains vaulter Charlotte Brown makes it back to state

COMMERCE —   Unlike last year, Rains pole vaulter Charlotte Brown didn’t have a long wait before finding out that she had qualified for the University Interscholastic League State Track and Field Championships.

  Brown nailed down a spot at state by finishing second in the Region II-3A championships on Friday at Memorial Stadium. Brown cleared a season-high 11 feet 3 inches to advance to Austin for the second   straight year. She’ll vault at 1:30 p.m. on May 9 at Mike A. Myers Stadium.

  “I’m feeling great,” said a smiling Brown after securing the state berth.

  Brown had to wait several days last year before learning she’d qualified as a wild-card after placing third at the region meet. The top two finishers in each of the four regions automatically advance plus the wild-card, which goes to the vaulter that cleared the best height of all the third-place finishers from the four regions.

  “It’s stressful if you don’t know if you’re in for a few days,” said Brown, who made it in 2013 with an 11-6 clearance.

  Last year Brown became the first legally blind athlete in state history to compete at the state meet. She placed eighth with a clearance of 10-6.

  With her guide dog, Vader, watching from lane eight on the track, Brown cleared 9-6, her first height on Friday with ease. She had one miss at 10-0 before clearing it on the second try and then stayed clean at 10-6 and 11-0. She missed her first two attempts at 11-3 before nailing second place with a clutch vault on the last attempt.

  Brown then missed three times at 11-6, as did the only other remaining competitor, Lindsey Seachrist of Spring Hill. Seachrist’s best clearance in the competition was also 11-3 and was awarded first place because of fewer misses. Seachrist made 11-3 on her second try.

  “I jumped pretty well,” said Brown, who now uses a beeper placed along the runway to help her find her way to the pole vault box.

  “I’m very proud of the way she competed,” said Derek Smith, Rains’ athletic director and pole vault coach. “It’s a little nerve-wracking when you get a miss in there. We can do some work now. It’ll get warmer.”

  Smith said he and Brown, who missed much of the early season with a leg injury, have some things to figure out. Brown’s been experimenting with a couple of different poles, looking for the right one for the best results.

  A film crew kept a close watch on Brown and her family during Friday’s competition. The Rains junior was the subject of a big feature story on ESPN’s website this week and was interviewed by phone for ESPNw. Her family said Brown will be the subject of another upcoming feature on ESPN, the sports cable TV network.

  Brown has also been featured in the last year on ABC News and the Katie Couric Show.

  Rains senior Kristin Brough cleared a personal-best 10-6 to finish fifth in the competition.

  Rains senior Grant Russell, who was a state qualifier in the triple jump last year, leaped a season-best 22-2 1/2 to finish fourth in the Region II-3A long jump.

  Russell, who’ll compete today in the triple jump, finished fifth at state last year with a leap of 44-10 3/4.

  Rains’ 4x400-meter relay team of Kelsie Harpole, Corley Cole, Hannah Harris and Brown on the anchor qualified fifth for today’s finals with a time of 4:07.20.

  The meet resumes today with the first field events at 10 a.m. and the running finals at 4 p.m.

 

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