I hadn’t been to a high school track meet in a number of years, but this time I had a special reason for being trackside: A freshman pole-vaulter for Las Lomas High School in Walnut Creek just happens to be my granddaughter. And Las Lomas was one of the teams in the Kimball meet.
We were a bit surprised several months ago, when 15-year-old Carolina Trimble announced she was trying out for the track team as a pole-vaulter. After all, pole vaulting is not an easy event, combining running with a fiberglass pole in hand, planting the pole, lifting and crossing the bar.
When we learned that Carolina was doing well in her new sport and that Las Lomas was entered in the Kimball invitational, we knew we had to be there to see her in action.
And there was Carolina, attired in a Las Lomas warm-up suit taking a few practice vaults while her Tracy grandparents, standing nearby on the other side of a wire fence, watched her every move.
As competition got under way, Carolina passed on opening heights that some of the girls succeeded in clearing, while some did not. These were freshmen and sophomore girls just starting competition in a new sport, and some of the girls hadn’t yet mastered getting up and over the bar.
Carolina cleared the bar at 7 feet, 6 inches. On her second try at 8 feet, 1 inch, she lifted her herself up and twisted to one side to make it over without knocking down the bar. She was the only girl in the competition to clear that height.
She had won the frosh-soph girls high jump event — and set a Kimball High track record for the girls frosh-soph pole vault in the process. Grandparents Sam and Joan, seeing it all transpire, were mighty proud.
Later, Carolina’s father, Tom Trimble, a competitive runner, checked the state track and field website and found that she ranks eighth in the state among freshman girls for her winning 8-foot, 1-inch vault at Kimball. That certainly added some frosting on the Kimball meet-victory cake.
We must have some pole vaulting genes in our family’s DNA. My brother Tom was one of Tracy High’s first competitive pole-vaulters in the late 1940s, hitting 10 feet, 6 inches in his senior year to set a school record.
To perfect his vaulting skills, Tom practiced — using an aluminum pole — at a pole vault pit he built in our backyard on Wall Street. I can still hear the clanging of the pole as it dropped to the ground after Tom let go as he completed an attempt.
I tried it a few times myself, but I didn’t seem to have the runway speed or the arm strength. The vaulting genes must have bypassed me and somehow wound up with granddaughter Carolina.
The high school track season is just getting into gear, so there will be more chances for more efforts — and greater heights. But there is nothing certain in a sport where the crossbar can be brushed loose with the slightest contact.
For now, the family’s neophyte pole-vaulter is doing well — and, best of all, is having a good time. And, of course, the grandparents are enjoying every minute of it.
• Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus, can be reached at 830-4234 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.