Prep girls' track: Sainsbury joins roster of impressive Bingham vaulters
Rebecca Sainsbury beat up her body as a gymnast for years until her body finally told her it had had enough.
Friends at Red Mountain High School in Mesa, Ariz., introduced her to the pole vault in her search for a replacement sport.
Just like that, Sainsbury had found her new passion.
"At first, I was like, 'What?' I didn't even know they did that in high school," said Sainsbury, now a senior at Bingham High. "I ended up trying it and loving it, so I stuck with it."
When Sainsbury moved back to Utah and enrolled at Bingham, she found one of the most successful vaulting programs in the state. Bingham is one of a handful of schools in Utah with a coach dedicated to the event, and the tutelage of coach Kody Pierce is a big reason Miners litter the top performances on both the boys' and girls' sides.
Sainsbury has posted the top girls' mark in 2013, clearing 10 feet, 1 inch a personal best. Teammate and fellow senior Bethany Foster is 1 inch behind, but she also holds the girls' state record of 10-8 set a season ago.
On the boys' side, senior Mitch Kalenin's mark of 14-6 is best to this point, followed by Bingham junior Mitch Robinson at 14-0.
"I've gone and worked out with other schools, and I ask where there coach is, and they say they don't have one," said Robinson, whose brother Dillon was a two-time state champion pole vaulter at Bingham. "All the schools come and practice with Bingham because [so few] have a coach. I guess it's just part of the pole vault community. Everybody's friends because we coach each other."
Pierce said the secret to Bingham's success begins with having gifted athletes such as Sainsbury, who developed muscle and coordination throwing herself through the air on the vault and bars in gymnastics.
But clearly learning under Pierce, who admits he wasn't an exceptional vaulter when he competed but turned to coaching when his brother Trevor Andersen showed interest at Bingham, clearly sets apart the Miners program.
"There's just not very many other schools [with a coach], unfortunately," Pierce said. "Davis High has a very good program, and they've had a coach there for a while. I end up coaching the Riverton kids, Copper Hills kids, West Jordan kids. We have a pretty full runway of random kids from different schools. It's great."
Sainsbury and Foster, who will compete for Utah Valley University next season, are awaiting word on whether the girls' competition will be a scoring event in the Class 5A state meet. The event slowly has fallen out of favor with the season-ending meet, and now vaulters below 5A compete in an exhibition at state.
"I don't think a lot of people are aware it's available to them," Sainsbury said. "We are working with younger kids and getting them involved, and they seem to like it. â¦ We are hoping to get the votes so that we can compete at state."