PHOENIX, Arizona: The last eight years the Desert Vista Pole Vault team has been averaging about 35 athletes a year but this year with 24 boys and 19 girls, the team of 43 is the largest in the country. The team works well together with veteran team members nurturing younger athletes new to the event. "When my athletes are seniors they are expected to be the leaders and frequently are called upon to lead groups since we are so big," said pole vault coach Jeff Guy, whose top five girls rank in the top 5 on the Arizona leader board. He teaches the team to compete, not against each other, but within themselves.
Coach Guy has also set some pretty lofty goals for his girls team. "Our goal this year was to get 4 girls or perhaps 5 girls over 12 feet from the same high school."
Name Year School Finals
1 Simpson, Shaylah Desert Vista 13-04.00
2 Arseneau, Heather Desert Vista 12-01.00
3 Harmon, Kylie Desert Vista J12-01.00
4 Reginato, Courtney Desert Vista J12-01.00
5 Heisler, Emily Desert Vista 11-07.00
Shaylah Simpson (SR) PR: 13-4* (State Record)
On March 14th, Shaylah broke the Arizona state record at the Nike Indoor Nationals in Boston with a jump of 13-2.25. The previous 2003 record of 13-0.25 was held by April Kubishta from Lake Havasu. Two weeks later Shaylah jumped 13-0 at the Chandler Rotary Invitational Shaylah has been a strong pole vaulter throughout her entire high school career winning the State Championship her junior year. She also has a PR of 5-2 in the high jump.
Update: On May 22nd at the Meet of Champions Shaylah Simpson broke the Meet Record again with a jump of 13-4.
Shaylah will be pole vaulting for Arizona State University in the fall.
"I knew from a young age I wanted to try the pole vault when my older sister, Laryssa, started doing it. I just thought it looked “cool” to fly in the air and land on a big mat, what else would a 10 year old think about that event? My mom found out about Coach Guy’s camp when I was in 6th grade and jumped at the opportunity to sign me up. I can remember so clearly being at Corona, holding this stick in my hand and thinking; “I don’t get this at ALL!” Counting, running, planting, shifting, swinging my legs up—all in a matter of 5 seconds. This was a little overwhelming. The most confusing part to me was the counting and moving the pole at the same time. I had only been used to looking straight towards the finish line and pumping my arms as best I could! Now I had to have a pole in my hands! Eventually, I got the hang of it and loved it.
Being part of the Desert Vista Pole Vault team has been amazing the past 4 years. The 7 of us girls have all been together since my sophomore year. I consider these girls not only as teammates but family. We have been there to support one another through the difficult times, and cheer each other on through the good times. Even though sometimes we fight like a family, we always know we will stay connected forever. I will never forget these 7 girls, without them…my high school track experience would mean nothing. I also love all the other 40 vaulters we have had this season! There is not a practice that has gone by where someone on the team didn’t make me laugh or smile!
Having Jeff Guy as my coach for the past 6 years has truly been a blessing. His love for the pole vault is so apparent through his coaching, and he sees potential in everyone. He has given us so much and I will always be grateful to him for that. He will truly be missed by all the seniors who are leaving this year."
Courtney Reginato (SR) PR: 12-3
Heather Arseneau (SR) PR: 13-0*
Heather started her pole vault career as a freshman at Desert Vista. By her sophomore year she was clearing 11 feet and on the 16th of April, at the Queen Creek Invitational, Heather was the 4th jumper on the team to clear 12 feet this season.
*(update: one day after this article came out, Heather jumped 12-6 at the Tempe City Invitational and later jumped 13-0 at the 5A 1 regional championships for an Arizona #3 All Time mark.)
Heather will be pole vaulting for San Diego State University this fall.
"I feel very lucky to have a coach like coach Guy, he is a great coach and really cares about all of his athletes.
What I love about pole vault is that I always want more, when I PR I am so excited because I know that I will have a new goal to work towards. The sport itself is challenging and that is what makes it so fun."
Emily Heisler (SR) PR: 12-1
Emily started her track career in the 8th grade as a long jumper and ran a leg of the 4x100 meter relay. She switched to pole vaulting her freshman year at Desert Vista making it to state every year. Emily was jumping 11-0 feet by her sophomore year and cleared 12 feet at the Desert Classic Invitational on March 5th. On April 9th she cleared 12-1 at the Arcadia Invitational in California .
Next year she heads to the University of New Mexico to continue her pole vaulting career.
"As for pole vault... For me, the sport is my passion. The first day I walked up to practice, and saw a kid vault over a 15 foot bungee, I had so many mixed emotions. I was freaked out at first, haha. I thought, "what am i getting myself into??". But once they put a pole in my hand, and I realized that I had some natural talent, I was hooked. Pole vaulting is such a good opportunity for me to challenge myself. It makes me push and strive to get what I want (which is always the next height!). It has taught me patience, strength, and persistance. Persistance is probably the biggest lesson. I did not get up to 12 feet by trying the sport once and giving up. All of my hard work pays off as I float down from clearing a height. It is the best feeling-- you get such a rush. I think the meets are the best part. I love to compete! It takes a different kind of mental toughness that not many people have, and I am proud to say that I can do what I do. Haha I could go on forever about the sport, I just love it.
As for the team... my team is, by far, the biggest competition I have (besides myself and the bar!). Personally I am thankful to have such a great team, because it pushes me to be the best I can be too. We all celebrate when we see someone perform well, but inside, each of us becomes that much more determined to do better ourselves. It's definately not about beating our teammates. It's about beating the bar. It has been so interesting to see how much each of us have grown over the years, and I am going to miss seeing these girls every day. I am so proud of all of them for how well they have done, and for sticking with the sport all the way through to college. It's not very often that you get 4 (soon to be 7 :) ) girls over 12 feet, let alone 4 girls going to division 1 colleges, and 1 girl going to a division 2 college to do the sport. I think it's nuts! "
Kylie Harmon (JR) PR: 12-1*
Kylie started as a high jumper in the 8th grade and still high jumps for Desert Vista with a PR of 4-10. She joined he pole vault team as a freshman and jumped 11-0 feet by the end of her sophomore year. Two weeks ago Kylie jumped 11-9 at the Queen Creek Invitational. Kylie could be the 5th girl to clear 12 feet before the season is over.
(Kylie has since jumped 12-1 at the Meet of Champions held on May 22nd, and will return next season as Arizona's top pole vaulter.)
"Freshman year I played volleyball and I really enjoyed it but I was interested in pole vault so I contacted coach Guy and the rest is history! I love pole vault because its so different from every other sport. In volleyball you play as a team and compete against teamates for positions and other teams. But in pole vault, your only copmpetition is the bar. I love being on a team with six other girls who get along with each other so well because we are all there for each other no matter if it's a no height or a PR. Everybody looks forward to practice and Coach Guy truly makes you want to keep raising the bar (literally and figuratively). I think pretty much all of my success is becasue of Coach Guy and how patient he is with all of us and how enthusiastic he gets. When you PR its as if he just PR'd too. And when you no height, he feels as if he did too. Desert Vista track is a great team and in pole vault, we are not only teamates but friends."
Lindsay Jantzi (SR) PR: 11-3
Like Shaylah, Lindsay started pole vaulting at a young age while living in Oregon. After moving to Arizona she continued pole vaulting with USA Track and Field. Lindsay reached her PR of 11-0 this season at the Desert Classic Invitational. She hopes to finish the season strong and could possibly clear 12 feet before heading off to college. Last year at the State Meet Lindsay PR'd in all her events and is hoping to do the same this year.
Lindsay will be pole vaulting for Adams State in Colorado this fall.
"So when I started pole vault I thought it would just be a fun side activity to do along with cheer and dance, I didnt know how much of an impact it could have on my life. I remember my first meet i jumped 6' 6" and I watched as the other girls cleared heights almost double mine. The girls have always been so supportive of me and I look up to them as inspiration to work hard and keep trying. We have become like sisters, always laughing and always having a good time. I love all 6 of them and I'm sad to see the 5 seniors leave after this year. We have had many great memories that I will never forget, and they have always been there to lead me. Thats how pole vault is though, everyone is so supportive and encouraging. At meets coaches and athletes from rival teams help each other out and watch out for each, its kind of like one giant team. Coach Guy is also one of the main reason I have come this far. He is by far the best coach out there. He is so patient and understanding. He really truly cares about each member of the team and if you really want to succeed he does everything in his power to help you reach your goals. He pushes us to our limits in practice sometimes, but its all worth it and it pays off at meets. I hope to qualify for state with 10' 6" at the City Meet on saturday and my goal for the season is 11 feet. I would like to continue vaulting in college and my ultimate goal as of right now is 13 feet."