LOCK HAVEN — Standing on the track on the other side of Lock Haven’s Hubert Jack Stadium, Milton’s Riley Murray stood alone, rocking back and forth slightly with her stick in hand.
The Milton senior was the only remaining competitor on the field and was in the Lock Haven HS Classic area.
Murray gave his best on his three attempts to clear 12-foot-6, coming just timid on every jump. But that didn’t matter to Murray. What mattered was what she had accomplished before those vaults.
The Black Panther had been nothing short of remarkable during Saturday’s invite. His PR entering the invite was 10-6. She left Lock Haven to go an impressive 12-3.
“It really felt like a fever dream. It didn’t feel real at all.” Murray said, grinning from ear to ear. “I was like ‘whoa,’ I didn’t know what was going on. I was so surprised.”
Murray not only broke her PR, but also set a Milton school record in the process, which had previously stood at 11-0 since the early 2010s. Once Murray cleared 10-6, she raised the bar to 11-1. She was looking at this disk, and she secured it.
“I was super excited because it was the school record. It really pushed me to clear it and all the support from my parents really helped me,” said Murray.
Murray had no idea what to expect on Saturday. Just the week before, she had pulled her groin and was gently relaxing not to make anything worse. She was just hoping to erase 10-6 and go through the competition healthy. But to reach 12-3? It was beyond anything she had envisioned at the start of the afternoon.
“It didn’t really hurt at all, which turned me on a lot. After taking it off, I took the week really slowly and relaxed a lot. It helped him not to ignite as badly” said Murray. “I’m very surprised. I never expected (12-3) in my life. I thought I wasn’t even going to clear 11.”
Murray kept jumping until the bar was at 10. She cleared 10 on her second attempt and 10-6 on her first. It was then that she put the bar at 11-1. She missed her first two attempts before landing her final jump to set a public relations record and a new school record. The Black Panther then easily erased 11-6, 12-0 and 12-3, beating each on their first attempt.
“It really boosted my confidence because I don’t have much self-confidence, but it definitely helped me a lot,” said Murray.
Murray dominated the competition at Lock Haven. His 12-3 was one foot away from equaling the meet record set by current South Williamsport pole vault great Katie Jones in 2016. Murray’s height was also three feet taller than the height maximum of 9- from second-placed Josslyn Davis. 0.
The District 4 meet is fast approaching in a few weeks, and Saturday’s competition and result is something Murray admitted will fuel and motivate her.
“I feel like they help me a lot because it gives me a way to spot my other opponents and stuff. Just try to outplay them,” said Murray.
If Saturday’s result was any indication, the District 4 pole vaulters will have a high bar to climb in the districts to beat Murray.