The first time Belgrade’s Cynthia Smith got a look at the event as a wide-eyed freshman, there was some apprehension.
But it didn’t take long before the idea of vaulting oneself over a bar high in the air and plummeting to the ground became appealing.
“I started freshman year and I didn’t know that I wanted to do it, but I saw it and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I want to do that’. So I tried it out and I really fell in love with it,” said Smith.
Four years later, Smith is one of team’s top pole vaulters with high aspirations. And, the first of many goals was realized Friday afternoon when she signed a letter of intent to compete in pole vault at Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho.
Smith initially looked in-state for an opportunity to continue her track career before finding Lewis-Clark.
“I went and visited another school in Montana and I just didn’t feel like I fit in well there,” she said. “But on the way home I was looking at other schools — just ones that had track because obviously it’s the one passion that I have a lot. So I was looking at schools and found this one, so I contacted the coach.”
Smith liked what she heard from Warrior coach Mike Collins and noted his coaching style is similar to that of the Belgrade’s coaching staff. She also liked what the program does off the track.
“They do a lot of community work and a lot of charity work, so I really like that they do that,” Smith said. “While I was visiting the campus everybody just looked like they were really happy to be there.”
On the track, Smith has excelled in the pole vault and been a member of the Panthers’ state championship and state runner up teams over the past two years. She has cleared 10-feet in a competition this spring and has a personal best of 12-feet in practice.
“I really hope I can get that in a meet this year and break the school record set by one of my really good friends,” said Smith. “I know she’s cheering me on.”
The school record was set a year ago by Alyssa Henry, who cleared 11-feet, 6-inches at the state meet.
Smith, who plans to study sports medicine en route to becoming an athletic trainer, also competes in the 100 meter dash.
“I might be doing sprints for them,” Smith said. “But at this point just pole vault.”