**Warning -- Shameless Parental Pride Post**
We knew that Bethany could possibly be in contention for a state championship in the high jump. After all, she had finished in second place last year as a junior. But, once she decided to play softball this year, track kind of moved to the back burner. Between softball practices and games, she just didn't have the opportunity to put the time into it that she has in years past. She did win the district high jump title with a jump of 4'10", though, so she qualified for state competition. Several of her teammates also qualified for the state meet in various events, so we were happy to head to Fort Smith to cheer them on.
The meet started at 9:00 a.m., and Bethany's event wasn't scheduled until 3:30 p.m., so we had a long day of waiting before it was time for her to jump. My good friend Laurie came and hung out with us, even packing a delicious lunch for us to enjoy while we waited. The minutes seemed to crawl by, but finally it was time for her event. By this time, Laurie's husband Jerry, and Bethany's grandma, Aunt Maria, and cousin Emily were also there, so she had quite the cheering section.
Here's a picture of the anxious parents and grandma, watching her warm up ... :)
She looked good in warm-ups, but we had to be realistic. There were probably thirty girls there, and we knew that one of them had jumped 5'2" in a competition earlier this spring. Bethany had jumped 5'0" in competition last year, but had not been able to surpass 4'10" this year. So, although we were hopeful, and we knew she was capable, our expectations were not real high.
Finally, warm-ups were over, and the competition got underway for real. Each athlete gets three attempts at each height. If you manage to clear it, you sit down and wait for the bar to be raised. If you do not jump it successfully in three tries, you're eliminated. Each miss counts against you, and if there are two jumpers at the end who clear the same height, the one with the fewest misses is declared the winner.
They started with the bar at 4'4", and Bethany cleared it easily on her first try. She waited through all the other girls' attempts, and then the bar was raised at 4'6". Once again, she cleared it with no trouble. Back under the umbrella for more waiting ...
4'8" was cleared just as easily, and then came 4'10". Here's how she did on her first attempt ... Looking good!
By this time, there weren't very many competitors left. Remember the girl who had jumped 5'2"? Well, she went out at this height. At this point, I was beginning to think she had a chance ... although I was worried about that 5'0" height. All year, it was as if Bethany had a mental block about that height. She just couldn't clear it, no matter how hard she tried.
Well, they raised the bar to 5'. Bethany was pacing back and forth by this time, trying to keep her focus. I could see the confidence and determination in her step. Finally it was her turn. She approached the bar and did her Fosbury Flop. This is what it looked like ...
Yeah, is it just me or does it look like she is sitting on that bar? Well, the bar did not fall, and she cleared 5' on her first attempt. It was then that I knew she had a chance. All the remaining girls went out at that height but one. That girl missed twice, then made it on her last try.
So they moved the bar to 5'1", and it was between the two of them. Bethany missed, and the girl missed. Bethany missed, and the girl missed. Bethany missed, and then turned her back because she just couldn't watch. If the girl made it, she would come in second, and if the girl missed, she would win. When the girl missed, the cheer of the crowd (I still kind of feel bad about that!) made Bethany spin around. She didn't know if the cheer was because she had made it or because she had missed. When she saw the bar on the ground, she knew she had won.
It was an emotional celebration, made even sweeter by the fact that it was totally unexpected.
They actually had an awards ceremony, where she got to stand up on a podium and receive her medal just like she was in the Olympics. Here she is waiting to be called up to receive her award ...
And here she is with her medal. She'll be receiving a state champion ring in a month or two.
Thanks for indulging me in some parental pride. We've just having such a fun senior year with this girl!