In the midst of a cold front that swept across Texas and forced many competitors to leave the track for the comfort of a roof and heater, Sam Houston State University pole vaulter Jennie Sewell braved the elements to bring home the first Texas Relays gold medal in Bearkat history.
The event, held at Mike A. Myers Stadium at the University of Texas, originally listed 14 competitors, yet only five showed up to vault in the unusually frigid temperatures.
Sewell cleared 3.95 meters (12′ 11 1/2″) for the top spot in the event, beating out Gabriella Duclos of Arizona and Ingrid Kantola of UCLA.
While many parts of the state were dealing with sleet and snow flurries, Sewell was focused on making sure her hands didn’t slip off the pole in her pursuit of gold.
“I could feel my hands slipping on the pole and I was just thinking ‘Please, just stay on the pole’,” Sewell said.
The gold medal marks the first time that a Sam Houston State athlete has taken first place in a Texas Relays event.
“I’d been looking forward to the meet since the fall,” Sewell said. “I wanted some good competition and I really wanted to clear 4.10 (meters).”
Though she hasn’t yet achieved that goal, Sewell still owns a spot in Bearkat history as well as a new watch and T-shirt commemorating her status as a Texas Relays champion.
The Bearkats’ Allison Ferries represented Sam Houston State in the 3,000 meter steeplechase and finished fifth with a time of 10:49:06, qualifying her for the NCAA Regionals at the end of May.
The women’s 4×400 meter relay also finished well, coming in at seventeenth in the event with a time of 3:42.64.
Though at least one of the men’s events was cancelled due to the inclement weather, several Bearkats were able to bring home commendable finishes as well.
The men’s 4×400 meter relay earned a fifth place finish in the event and qualified for a trip to the NCAA Regional meet with a time of 3:08.45.
Both teams are set to travel to Natchitoches this Saturday to compete at the Northwestern University Five-Way. The Bearkats have four remaining scheduled meets before the Southland Conference tournament, which will be held at Stephen F. Austin on May 4-6.