Eustice soars to third straight KVL title
Senior pole vaulter eyes another trip to state
Shawnee There was nothing pretty about Sara Eustice's winning vault on Wednesday, but that wasn't the point.
What mattered was that by clearing 9-foot-6 - she clipped the bar handily on her way over but it never fell from the uprights - Eustice claimed her third consecutive Kaw Valley League championship in the pole vault.
Mill Valley senior Susan Needlam was right on her heels at nine feet.
"I wanted her to make it so she could push me to get 9-6," Eustice said.
Eustice said she knew she needed the extra boost because she hadn't vaulted higher than nine feet all season. Her personal best was 10 feet - the school record at Lansing High - which she set at state as a sophomore. Eustice placed sixth at state that year and then added a sixth-place finish again last year when she cleared 9-6.
The timing of Wednesday's vault was perfect for Eustice. Although struggled to get over the bar on her winning vault, she'd cleared the bar by a solid three inches on her previous attempt before knocking it off with her forearm while kicking out her pole.
"I think it's good timing for me," Eustice said of pulling it all together. "I still have plenty of time to keep working on it."
The competition at the Class 5A regional meet likely won't be as difficult for Eustice. No vaulter in Topeka has cleared higher than eight feet this year. That means the road may be clear for Eustice to collect her first-ever regional championship.
"I'm thinking I can go 9-6 again at regionals, maybe 10 feet, and then go 10 at state," she said.
Eustice figures to be a shoo-in for state in the pole vault. Her other event, the 400-meter relay, is another story. Eustice and relay teammates Natalie Groves, Takeisha Jenkins and Laura Abramovitz placed third at league in 52.59 seconds. Their season-best came last week at the Shawnee Mission North relays when they blazed to a 52.02 clip. That time placed them on the bubble, but Eustice said they'll need to run in the 51s to have a legitimate shot at state.
"We are really close," she said. "We need to get our handoffs down, but we're really close."