By David Fong
TROY —There are some numbers every high school student obsesses over — most notably 16, the age at which he or she becomes and adult, and 18, they age at which they legally reach adulthood.
There’s been a different number on Christine Moser’s mind most of her entire senior year at Troy High School, however.
“I’ve pretty much been thinking about the number 12 since Thanksgiving,” said Moser, a pole vaulter on the Troy girls track and field team. “Ever since we started indoor (vaulting) in late November, that number is all I’ve been thinking about. I want the (school record). To get to 12-4, you have to clear 12 first, right?”
Moser has been chasing two marks all season. The first was 12-feet, which she cleared Friday at Troy Memorial Stadium as she won an overall Greater Western Ohio Conference championship. The second is 12-4, the school record set by Erica Kemp in 2009 when she finished second at the Division I state meet. Moser’s previous best vault in a competition was 11-8.
“This feels amazing to do my senior year at my final home meet,” Moser said. “I love this place. This is literally like my family. This is one reason why part of me doesn’t want to go to college — I don’t want to leave my pole vaulting family.”
That extended vaulting family — along with her immediate family — played a big role in Moser getting over the 12-foot mark she’s been gunning for all year. At Wednesday’s GWOC Division meet, Moser vaulted just 10-9, one of her lowest heights of the season. That’s when local vaulting coach Roger Bowen, who — along with Troy vaulting coach Herb Hartman — works with Moser in the offseason, decided Moser needed new poles in her pursuit of greater heights.
Bowen — a former college coach — called one of his contacts in Nevada and ordered bigger poles to be shipped overnight to Columbus. The poles arrived Thursday evening at the Columbus International Airport. Moser’s father David drove to Columbus, picked up the poles and brought them back late Thursday night. Moser was vaulting on the poles Friday evening.
“At 11 p.m. (Thursday), I was freaking out because my dad wasn’t home yet,” Moser said. “But we got them here and had them sitting out in the sun Friday morning. They made a huge difference. A lot of brand new poles are a little softer and easier to bend.”
Hartman said Moser looked as good as she has all season.
“She was exceptional,” he said. “This was important for her, mentally, to get over 12 feet. It’s one of those things where you have to go a little bit at a time. You don’t just increase your vault by 2 feet in a couple of weeks. She’s been working at this for a long time, putting in the effort.”
With 12 feet finally out of the way, Moser has her eyes set on 12-4, a mark she hopes to break in the next 2-3 weeks. She gets her first shot at this week’s Division I district meet at Piqua. If she places in the top four at districts, she’ll get another chance the following week at the regional meet at Wayne High School. Should she place in the top four at regionals, she’ll make a return trip to the state meet.
To get the chance to compete at regionals and state, Moser may very well need to continue vaulting at 12 feet or better, as the Southwest region is loaded with some of the most talented vaulters in the state. Three of the vaulters Moser outlasted to win the GWOC title were Greenville sophomore Riley Hunt, Beavercreek sophomore Eileen Yang and Wayne senior Taylor Robertson.
Hunt and Yang both have vaulted better than 12 feet on several occasions this year. Robertson and teammate Codi Scoggins both have vaulted 11-9. Moser will see Hunt this week at districts and, should she get to regionals, likely would see Yang and the Wayne vaulters there.
The regional meet could shape up to be an intense battle for the four spots at state, as four vaulters in the region all have vaulted 12 feet or better this season, while a total of nine have vaulted 11-6 or better. Of the top 10 heights posted in the state so far this season, eight have come from the Southwest region.
“There’s a lot of great vaulters in this part of the state,” Moser said. “That’s why it was so important to jump 12 at this meet, so I have that confidence the next few weeks. I feel like once you clear a height, you should be able to clear it again.”
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong