When MacArthur's Nicole Natland walked into the Long Island Track and Field Invitational Friday night at St. Anthony's, she knew she was among the best pole vaulters on L.I. After all, you don't get invited without being exceptional.
But after clearing 11 feet, three inches, exceptional is an understatement. The height broke the Nassau record of 10-8 -- set by Syosset's Jade Knaster in January -- according to MacArthur coach Jamie SanFilippo.
"I wanted to PR [set a personal record] tonight," Natland said. "My old PR was 10 feet, seven inches and I wanted to jump at least 11. I had tough competition. They pushed me through it."
Natland wasn't aware of the record- setting nature of her performance until she was handed her championship plaque. "My coach told me. I didn't know I had done it," she said. "I was shocked. I didn't know I could do that."
Natland made some key changes after her first few jumps. "I corrected my form a little, fixed my hand, and picked up my speed on the runway," she said. "Once I started getting the feel for it, it got better and better each time."
Glenn's Sarah Hardie didn't have "set a record" on her mind as she walked into the meet, all she wanted was a jacket. She got her wish. Hardie won the 1,000 in two minutes, 58.50 seconds. Winners were awarded a jacket.
"My game plan was to stay right behind [West Islip's] Jessica Ball because she goes out really fast," Hardie said. "I tried to stay as close to her as possible and then give it all I got the last lap."
Hardie sprinted down the final straightaway to victory. Ball finished second (3:02.43). "I was thinking 'do it for the jacket,' " Hardie said with a smile.
Sachem North's Melissa Michels continued her impressive season with a victory in the 55, finishing in 7.37 seconds. Smithtown East eighth-grader Jaclyn Gallery won the 3,000 in 10:38.52. Bay Shore's Imani McGhee won the long jump with a leap of 18-7.