South Kitsap’s Porter sets bar high for pole vaulters

Anyone looking for high school freshman Lindsay Porter two years ago would have had to travel to their local gymnastics school, where the bright-eyed gymnast was working her way up the team competition ladder.

But having achieved her goal of reaching the team competition and a Level 7 following five years of hard work, Porter decided to set her sights on a newer height.

Nowadays, the South Kitsap High junior can be found out at the school’s track with a pole in her hand – practicing jump after jump with the hopes of becoming one of the Wolves’ most prolific female pole vaulters.

And from the looks of her results this track and field season – including breaking her own school record of 10 feet, 6 inches – achieving this goal won’t be as tough.

In fact, Porter has stepped up to help the women’s track team in several areas this year, among them high jump, hurdles and 4-by-400 relay.

“I’ve done a little of everything, but I only really practice one thing, and that’s the pole vault,” Porter said, admitting she hopes to win a college scholarship one day on her vaulting ability. “Most of the events I do are jump-oriented. I guess I just get the hops.”

Indeed, the Arizona-born and Olalla-raised Porter has grown up in a highly competitive family. Her brother competes in motocross, and her parents rarely miss her meets.

Porter spent much of her time learning to compete in sports like gymnastics and soccer.

She describes herself as a goal-driven competitor, though she confesses she tends to lean more to specific things that catch her interest.

Enter the pole vault.

“(Lindsay) is a great kid who is really into the sport of vaulting,” said Paul Zimmer, her pole vault coach at South Kitsap. “She hopes to move on to district and state. In practice this past week she has made great strides towards those goals.”

Although Porter has competed in the high jump, hurdles and long jump for the team, scoring points at nearly every dual meet this year, Zimmer said Porter’s primary focus has been on her meeting this week with the Narrows League’s best pole vaulter.

On Friday, South Kitsap was to play host to the Narrows League meet, where Gig Harbor’s Melissa Peasley is expected to give Porter her biggest challenge of the year.

Peasley has jumped a league-high 11-7 already this season. But last week, Porter hit an 11-6, giving her every hope she’ll give her nemesis some competition.

Even so, the top six finishers advance to the district meet – meaning Porter has a good chance to be there representing the Wolves.

“You just have to run hard and don’t let up. You can’t get scared or psyche yourself out,” Porter said, adding that she switched to a bigger pole recently.

She practices every day and said she’s learned to enjoy the tight-knit camaraderie that comes with being one of track-and-field’s elite group.

“I guess pole vaulters are a breed apart,” she said. “We warm up with each other and hang out together. It’s one of those things that, if you don’t practice every day, you don’t really get that far with it.”

Porter has practiced so hard this season she hasn’t had much time for anything but some assistant coaching at a local gymnastics school.

But the results have shown, with Porter placing in the top three or five in several different events in most meets this season.

Porter said she’s excited about the chance to prove herself this weekend, and even more excited at the thought of having achieved her goal of setting personal bests in the pole vault.

With her senior year still to come, Porter can’t wait to see where she goes from here.

“I love it. I’d love to continue to do the pole vault into my college years — even get a scholarship to pay for school if I can,” Porter said. “It’s something I can really enjoy.”

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