When Samantha Stetz heard the speech, she couldn't have imagined what it would lead to. The St. Anthony's freshman was preparing for her first spring season when Friars assistant coach Jim Henderson spoke the words that would change the course of her season.
"He said that he needed new pole vaulters because the other ones had graduated," she said. "He said gymnasts would make really good pole vaulters."
Stetz, who was a level nine gymnast before turning her attention to track and field, decided to give it a shot. After clearing 9 feet, the freshman won the pole vault at the CHSAA championships Saturday at St. Anthony's.
Her victory helped the Friars win the team title, 100 points in the process, 35 more than second-place Kellenberg.
Stetz said her time as a gymnast, which was "most" of her pretrack life, helped her undertake the event. "The bar event [in gymnastics] and the rigorous exercise that got me into shape made pole vaulting a lot easier," she said.
The turning point of the season, Stetz said, was Saturday's meet. With the stakes as high as they had been all year, she finally felt comfortable with her newfound discipline.
"Everything clicked," she said. "It really hit me that this was the championships and I needed to pull it together."
In fact, everything for the Friars was clicking on this day.
Brittany Coscio won the high jump, clearing 5 feet, 3 inches. "I was really 'on' today," she said. "I double PR'd. My PR before this was 5 feet, 1 inch."
Coscio had to fight off gusty winds as she flew to victory.
"When I took my approach, I just kept thinking, 'power through, power through, power through,' " she said. "That power that I was thinking about transferred through to my jump."
Olivia Seifert, a sophomore, won the discus, throwing 135-2. It broke the previous meet record of 120-8, set by Sacred Heart's Nina Renker in 2008, assistant coach John McCree said.
Stephanie Leo won the 3,000 meters in 11 minutes, 5.86 seconds and the 2,000 steeplechase in 7:33.13. Leo was dominant in both triumphs, winning the 3,000 by 29.43 seconds and the steeplechase by 34.27 seconds.
"Running alone was difficult, but you have to do what you have to do," she said. "You just have to tell yourself every lap that you are closer to the finish."
Nicole Anderson won the 100 hurdles in 15.15 seconds, a personal best. Anderson spent the week trying to improve her trail-leg technique.
"I wasn't bringing my knee up," Anderson said. "Finally, I did it and pulled through."