BOONE — Watauga girls’ pole vaulter Kinley Drummonds was only following a family tradition when she took up pole vaulting.
Drummonds, a junior at Watauga High School, is the latest in her family to take up the sport. Her older sisters, Taylor and Savannah, also pole vaulted in high school.
Taylor is currently a pole vaulter at Appalachian State, while Savannah, a freshman, is a pole vaulter at Lenoir-Rhyne.
Drummonds has already qualified for the state 4-A indoor track and field championships with a vault of 9-feet, 6-inches in her first meet. She also vaulted 10 feet in her second meet, and just missed on an attempt at 10-3.
Drummonds was named Watauga High School’s Athlete of the Week for her efforts. Five Guys Burgers and Fries and the Watauga Democrat sponsor the award.
She was happy to reach the 10-feet level, but has 10-3 on her radar screen.
“I was meeting my personal record, so I was hoping to reach 10,” Drummonds said. “I’m glad that I did, because the first meet I only vaulted 9-6, and then I tried to beat my P.R. of 10-3 and I missed, so getting 10 was satisfying because I didn’t get it until the second meet.”
Drummonds, with coaching from her father, Jeff Drummonds, started pole vaulting when she was a freshman. It was not something she took to right away, but started to enjoy it the more she tried it.
“I didn’t like it at first,” Drummonds said. “It was very intimidating, very scary. It’s a lot about technique. Now I love it. I’m glad I started.”
Drummonds said the sport can be intimidating because of what’s involved. There is running down the track with the pole, and then having to use the pole to go 10 feet above ground and clear a bar.
“There’s a lot of technique involved,” she said. “That doesn’t come automatically. There’s a lot of practice involved.”
Although Drummonds has already qualified for the state indoor meet, she does not feel she has reached her full potential.
She said she has not had her moment where she feels she’s really good at pole vaulting, but looks forward to that moment.
That moment is likely to come when she gets as good as her sisters. Competing against her sisters’ accomplishments is a double-edged sword for Kinley.
She sees their past accomplishments as a goal she would like to achieve. She also embraces being a pole vaulter, not only when it comes to competing with her sisters, but also in keeping up with the tradition that has been built by past pole vaulters at Watauga High School.
“I have something to live up to,” she said. “I have something to beat, so that kind of gets me going.”
Taylor helps Kinley with her pole vaulting by analyzing video of Kinley’s vaults.
“We record our practices and go over them at home,” Kinley said. “My dad also helps coach.”
Ironically, the other edge of the double-edge sword is that both Taylor and Savannah have vaulted higher than Kinley. Savannah set a school record at Matanzas High School in Palm Coast, Fla., with a 10-7.
Taylor Drummonds vaulted 12-71/2 while attending East Carolina. She has since transferred to Appalachian State.
“They can vault higher than I can,” Kinley said. “I know that they’re older, but it’s definitely frustrating.”
Like her sister Taylor, Kinley also runs the hurdles. Kinley also plays softball as her sisters do, playing in the middle infield and some outfield. Sister Shelby, the oldest sister of the family, played softball at Watauga and pitches for Greensboro College.
Kinley played both softball and track and field at Matanzas High in Florida.
“I’m hoping to have enough time to do outdoor (track and field) and softball,” Drummonds said. “I did at my old school and it was a little tough, but I’m hoping to do it.”