Photo by Megan Zeller
Katie Jones of South Williamsport didn't seem to mind dealing with the golden rays compared to the liquid "sunshine" that she encountered far too often during the 2016 season.
"It's better than rain, that's what I'm telling everybody," Jones chuckled in response to a question about vaulting and setting PIAA records in the sweltering conditions. "It's better than rain. I vaulted in a lot of rain this season, so it's better than rain."
The junior was the model of efficiency, needing just five trips down the runway to break the Class AA meet record not once but twice. Jones' final clearance of the day - at 13 feet - bettered her impressive jump of 12-8 from moments earlier and the 12-7 record by Wilson Area's Allison Vanek in 2010.
"Of course, I was thinking state record," said Jones, who set a PR and season best of 13-3 back in April at Lock Haven. "I was also thinking all-time state record of 13-6. My goal this year was 13-7. I still have nationals to get that, and I have confidence that I can."
Katie Jones lines up before her attempt at breaking the state record (Photo by Megan Zeller)
Although Jones was not able to match or better the 13-6 jump by Easton Area's Lindsay Regan from 2006, all is not lost for the South Williamsport star and the 2016 season.
"I just really came in here wanting to PR," the gold medalist said. "That didn't happen, but I was really close. I can get my PR a lot higher at nationals."
Working from her usual starting height of 11-6, Jones quickly left behind the rest of the competition, except for Greensburg Central Catholic's Michelle Karabin, with first-try overs at 11-6, 12-0 and 12-6.
"(11-6 and 12-0) are comfort jumps that I can get my step on, get my technique better so I can get ready for bigger bars," Jones said.
After an earlier miss, Karabin matched Jones with only one attempt at 11-6 and 12-0 as the pair ventured toward record heights.
Jones reacts after clearing 13-0 to set the new state meet record (Photo by David Beyerle)
"I like jumping with somebody so they can push me," Jones said. "At 12-6, (Michelle) was really close. I thought for sure she was going to make it. I wished she did."
Jumping alone for the rest of the morning, Jones soared over 12-8 and mastered 13-0 for new PIAA records.
"You get tired a lot quicker, but we put chalk on our hands so that fixes the sweat problem and I was in the shade a lot and I was carrying around an umbrella to keep in the shade," the champion said of how she beat the state meet heat. "I was sitting under the tent a little bit so I could stay good."