Winona High School juniors Isaac Leech and Aasjahla Garron have “high” hopes.
Each won a bronze medal in the pole vault at last year's 3A state track meet, Leech with a leap of 11-6 in the boys competition and Garron by clearing 7-6 in the girls meet. Leech has reached 12-9 in practice and Garron eight feet in competition, but both feel they can do better, much better.
Leech said his goal is 14 feet. Garron said she could clear 10-6 “maybe.” If they were to achieve those goals at this year’s state meet – if indeed there is a state meet – they would likely be upgraded to gold. Last year’s winning heights were 13-4 for boys and eight feet for girls.
“I’m very proud of their accomplishments last year in the pole vault and I hope they get a chance to compete again this year,” said Winona coach Chris McRae.
Leech began vaulting when he was 14. “I was invited by a friend.”
He said the secret to being a good vaulter is technique. “That’s the thing that determines how high you are going to jump.”
The past two summers, Leech has attended a pole vaulting camp at Tickfaw, Louisiana. “We learned how to be consistent with our running and worked on technique.”
The camp is run by Erica Fraley who competed in the pole vault at the 2008 Olympics.
During this down time for Mississippi high school athletics he is working on strength training with the hope of being able to compete in the state meet.
He would like to vault for a Division I school. But if that is not possible, he mentioned Mississippi College and William Carey are schools he might like to attend.
There could be another Leech winning pole vaulting honors for Winona in the coming years. Isaac’s younger brother Jordan is a freshman who has cleared 9-6.
Leech also plays soccer for Winona.
Garron was recruited as a pole vaulter by her coach. “I was in the gym two years ago and coach McRae came up to me and figured I would be really good at it.” McRae said that was because of her background in gymnastics and her natural athletic ability.
Garron was a gymnast for several years, but gave it up at age 15 to concentrate on other sports. “I was deprived from participating in any (other) sports because I had to drive to Starkville for training four hours a day, including holidays. So when I left gymnastics I just wanted to do all I could my last two years of high school.”
She’s doing a lot. In addition to track, Garron plays on the softball team, is a cheerleader, plays the clarinet in the school band and is in the choir. She also does the triple jump and runs relays for the track team. She finished sixth at last year’s 3A North State meet in the triple jump and has done “33-something.”
Garron has learned technique from watching Leech and said the keys to success are timing and positioning.
Her hope now is that we have not seen the end of high school sports for this year. “It just saddens me that the year may be ending and I won’t be able to compete.”