Whitewater student has what it takes to be a state pole vault champ

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Thursday, May 26, 2011
— Pole vault is not for the faint of heart.

The track and field event requires an athlete to use a long pole as an aid to leap over a bar. The body is contorted, the competitor is prone in midair, and the drop to the mat can be anywhere from 10 to 20 feet.

For those very reasons, the event remains one of the most popular at any track and field meet.

Athleticism, grace and a fearless nature are needed to compete. A helmet is required.

Kim Stonewerth possesses all three.

The Whitewater High School senior cleared 11 feet, 8 inches in the WIAA Division 2 regional meet Monday at East Troy. That mark tops Division 2 this season and ranks third overall in the state. Two girls competing in Division 1 have cleared 12-3.

Stonewerth went 9-6 at state last year to tie for ninth, but she is more than two feet ahead of that mark this season. She credits a recent switch to a longer pole, along with her father’s coaching, for a recent surge.

“I’ve had practices where I’ve sat over 12 (feet), so I know what I can do,” Stonewerth said. “So last night was kind of like, ‘OK, maybe this isn’t so crazy to think that I could be this big of a jumper.’

“It came down to my brain letting go of everything, relaxing, and just making the jump.”

Stonewerth, the daughter of Tom and Sara, also is a two-time Division 2 state gymnastics champion on the vault. The gymnastics background certainly applies to pole vault, especially the strength and flexibility that Stonewerth utilizes.

Whitewater High track and field coach John Houwers said Stonewerth’s versatility as an athlete makes her a perfect candidate for pole vault.

“Things are really starting to translate for Kim in the pole vault,” Houwers said. “Going to a longer pole means you have to be faster to the pit, and Kim has the ability and strength to do that.

“The gymnast in her means that she’s fearless and not afraid to try new stuff. Like gymnastics, in pole vault, you’re going to crash and fall sometimes before you succeed.”

Stonewerth, who signed a national letter of intent to compete in track and field at the University of Minnesota, is not worried about winning a state title or setting a state record. Her goal is to eclipse the women’s magical mark in pole vault.

“Thirteen feet is what I want, and it’s not that far off,” Stonewerth said. “I can still make that goal. It’s just coming later in the season than I wanted it to.

“It comes down to fixing a few things that allow me to get those higher heights.”

The Division 2 girls state pole vault record is 12-3, while Ashwaubenon’s Liza Lewis is the All-Division record holder at 12-6.

Stonewerth isn’t talking about it, but she may soar past both of them by the time she’s done.

The Stonewerth file

-- Person I admire most: My daddy (Tom).

-- Pregame routine: Water and retying my shoes.

-- Favorite food: Fruit.

-- Favorite pastime: Sports of any kind.

-- Most prized possession: A lucky (teddy) bear my parents gave me before state last year.

-- In 10 years, I’ll be: Working.

-- Best invention in the last 100 years: Pole vault.

-- An unusual thing the average person wouldn’t know about me: I can dislocate my thumb.

-- Dream job: Something that allows me to help others.

-- If I could have one super power, it would be: Teleportation.

-- My favorite saying: “It’s not about winning. It’s about reaching your own personal records.”

Last updated: 5:07 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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