Verona High school pole vaulter Rebecca Slotkin traveled to Philadelphia this past weekend to compete in the Penn Relays, the University of Pennsylvania’s prestigious national competition for high school and college track athletes. She missed in her first two attempts at the opening height, then sailed right over. So did several other competitors, so Slotkin ended in a four-way tie for tenth, at 11′ 1 3/4″. The winning vault belonged to Allison Vanek of the Wilson Area High School in Easton, Pa., at 12′ 5 1/2″.
Slotkin was hardly discouraged by the results. “Just being at the Penn Relays was an experience,” she says. “I’m glad I cleared at least opening height because as my coach said, then I really made it to Penn! I was nervous all week but when the day came, all the nerves went away and I had a lot of fun with it and being there.” Especially once she realized that three-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt was also there.
Reflecting on her third attempt, she says, “before I went, I told myself to give it everything because there was nothing to hold back. I did feel myself over the bar and I knew I had it. At that point, I felt no pressure and I was truly excited to be there.” You can watch the video of that vault below.
Though the Penn Relays are over and September will bring Slotkin’s enrollment at Pennsylvania’s Lafayette College, she still has several goals for her VHS track career. “I want to make it to Meet of Champions and place in the top 6,” she says of next month’s key competition. “Teamwise, I think it’s very possible for Verona to win Groups so we’re working hard to accomplishing that. We have a young but very strong team that can go far both teamwise and individually. I’m excited to get into championship season.”