Oly's Shaffer vaults state-best 12-4

Erin Shafer just keeps setting the bar higher.

And higher.

Two years ago, as a novice pole vaulter, the Olympic High athlete remembers struggling to pull herself over 6-feet. But this self-described “daredevil” was a quick learner. She placed eighth at the state meet that year, clearing 10-0 at the class 4A track and field championships at Lincoln Bowl in Tacoma.

Shafer upped her personal best to 11-2 as a junior and ended the year by placing fourth at the state meet after clearing 10-6.

This year, Shafer readjusted her goals. From the start, when she cleared 11-4 at the season-opening Bremerton Relays, it was obvious that her winter training at an indoor facility in Auburn was paying off. A week later, she made 11-6. On Thursday, April 18, in a Narrows League meet against Bremerton at Silverdale Stadium, Shafer cleared 12-0.

Two days later, Shafer soared to an all-time state-best 12-4 at the 14th annual Eason Invitational in Snohomish. The performance earned her the female athlete of the meet honor for field events. Shafer had to beat the hometown favorite, Snohomish’s Emily Enders, who wound up second at 12-2, to take top honors.

“It was awesome,” Shafer said of her successful attempt at 12-4. “I couldn’t believe it after the meet was over.”

The previous state-best of 12-3, according to Washington Track Weekly, was established by Ashley Wildhaber of W.F. West of Chehalis in 2001. Stevie Marshalek of Kentlake, who trains in Auburn with Shafer, has cleared 12-1 this season. Wildhaber’s best this year is 12-0.

Except for the Pasco Invitational, where Shafer placed third with a vault of 11-0, Shafer’s not had any disappointments.

“Pasco wasn’t the greatest,”

she said, “but I learned from my mistakes. There was really a big tail wind and I should have switched to my other pole, which is stiffer. I would have done a better job at a higher height, but I’m learning from mistakes. It’s showing I guess.”

Against Bremerton, Shafer cleared 12-feet on her third and final try. At Snohomish, Shafer opened at 10-6. She cleared 12-0 on her first attempt and couldn’t remember if she made 12-2 on her first or second attempt. She made 12-4 on her second try.

Shafer missed three attempts at 12-6.

“When I was attempting 12-6, I was drained,” Shafer said. “I gave it my best shot. I just wish I would have had more energy. I almost made it on my first try. I know it’s there. I know I can go higher. Now I’ll try for 13.”

Shafer, a student of the event, said there’s still room for improvement, particularly when she plants the pole.

“By rocking back a little more, I can get more vert (vertical),” she explained. “And by pushing harder with my bottom arm, I can get more bend out of the pole.”

Shafer was looking forward to competing in today’s meet at North Kitsap “because the weather’s supposed to be great.” On Saturday, she’ll be at the Lake Washington Invitational.

Shafer draws inspiration from 2000 Olympic gold medalist and world record holder Stacy Dragila, the Michael Jordan of women’s pole vaulting.

“She’s the greatest,” Shafer said of Dragila, who’s cleared 15-9. “She’s the one who made pole vaulting. Because of her, females now have a chance. I’ve read up on the girls pole vault and the U.S. never excelled before her.”

Dragila’s an assistant track coach at Idaho State, one of the colleges that’s been in contact with Shafer, an all-around athlete who also played soccer for the Trojans.

“I did soccer for 13 years, but I’m kind of sick of it,” she said. “It’s just the pole vault now.”

She first got turned on to the sport by watching the Olympics as a youth.

That was before Dragila had popularized the sport in the U.S.

“I was always kind of a daredevil,” she said. “I used to do stuff like the guys do. Growing up with two brothers, I wanted to do what they did. It was more fun and exciting. And I remember watching the Olympics when I was younger. I saw the guys pole vaulting and I went, ‘Whoa! That was cool.’ That’s what got me going.”

CK's Rozier, Oly's Jess win at SK Invite

Central Kitsap’s Brittany Rozier blazed to victory in the 200 meters at the South Kitsap Invitational on Saturday, April 21, in Port Orchard.

The sophomore wasn’t pushed as she won the event in 26.8 seconds. Rozier was second in the 100 (12.7), chasing Wilson’s Angela Davis (12.5) across the finish line.

Olympic senior Tiffany Jess also climbed to the top of the podium after winning the shot put with a season-best 36-4 effort. Teammate Miah Harris was second (34-10) in the shot.

Central Kitsap’s Audrey Wicks won the high jump (5-0) and the Cougars’ Jolina Fanua won the discus (104-7).

Bremerton’s MarCia Abrams ran a season-best 1:00.1 to win the 400.

Central didn’t send a full team, but still managed to place third in the team race with 61 points. Bellarmine was a runaway winner with 168 points.

Wilson won the boys portion of the meet. The majority of CK’s top guns didn’t compete because of a conflict with the prom.

Individually, CK’s Jacob Anderson and Bremerton’s Anthony Ragsdale tied for first in the 200 with Jefferson’s Kamarr Evans. The three were clocked at 23.4 seconds.

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