By René Ferrán | Photos by Leon Neuschwander
As Nicole Prall climbed off the pole vault mat following her victory Friday in the Class 6A girls track and field championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, her fellow competitors rushed to congratulate the Lincoln junior.
The look on Prall’s face was a mixture of surprise and chagrin. After all, Prall had hoped to set a meet record of 12 feet, 8 inches, and perhaps even challenge the state record of 13 feet on this day.
Instead, she went “only” 12-6, matching her personal best but not the heights she’d hoped to hit.
She laughed about her reaction later.
“I think the reason I looked like that is that I didn’t get the meet record, which would have been pretty cool,” Prall said.
“But I did amazing today, and it’s worth congratulating, whether I’m happy with how I vaulted or not. In the end, I’m really happy with how I did.”
Prall entered the spring season with high hopes after an indoor campaign that saw her clear 13-0 for the first time and earn All-American status with a third-place finish at the Nike Indoor Nationals.
Then came what she called “a lot of just craziness this season.” She battled several illnesses, schedule conflicts with tennis (she also plays for the Cardinals tennis team in the spring) and fickle weather.
Finally, the weather cooperated Friday, and Prall felt confident entering the meet. She entered the competition at 11-6, a height she said “is an easy bar for me” — and promptly missed.
“That was horrifying, to say the least,” Prall said. “I just blew through it. It was a good miss, but I knew it was going to happen. I was going to blow through that pole eventually. I was on the biggest pole I’ve successfully vaulted on.”
Prall cleared the bar easily on her next attempt, then won the competition by being the only vaulter to make 11-9. She then cleared 12-0 and 12-6 before going out at 12-9¼, which would have moved her to No. 3 on the state’s all-time list.
“Overall, I’m happy with how I’ve done this season,” Prall said. “And I’m so excited for next year, because I get one more chance.”