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Prep girls' track: Morris finds pole vault more to her liking

Published May 1, 2013 3:37 pm

Prep girls track • Morris cleared 9 feet, 6 inches at the Davis Invitational.
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She broke her leg, tore ligaments in her ankle and pulled a calf muscle during her days as a hurdler, so Syracuse senior Ali Morris decided to take up something a little less stressful.

The pole vault.

Go figure.

As vigorous as the pole vault can be, it turns out that it's the right fit for Morris, who set a personal record at the Davis Invitational last weekend with a jump of 9 feet, 6 inches, besting her pervious PR of 9.0.

"She's a good athlete. She's worked hard at it and she's studied it. I would say her biggest limitation is just trying to stay healthy," Syracuse coach Roger Buhrley said. "The pole vault is not the easiest or safest event, but she's got an advantage over a lot of other kids because she has decent speed and strength."

Buhrley still is trying to work Morris into some other events. She competed in the long jump last week and also could run a relay, but her focus is clearly on improving in the pole vault.

"You really need to be strong everywhere," Morris said. "It's probably the most technical event in track. You have to do a ton of drills. I think one thing that's helped me is my background in gymnastics. I competed at a pretty high level up until I was 13. I'm hoping it all comes together for me, and I can reach my goal of 11 feet or at least 10-6. If I can do that, I might be able to get a scholarship in track."

Pole vault soon may be extinct at the high school level. It exists as a scoring event only at the 5A level for boys. It's only an exhibition event, one that does not score points to a team's point total, in Utah, but believes in the sport's future.

After battling injuries for three years, Morris took the advice of her sister, who was competing in the pole vault for Weber State before she got married and gave it up.

Morris isn't sure how high she will be able to go this weekend at the BYU Invitational, but based on her recent success, it's likely the bar will be raised.