When Northwood’s Tessa Sheets first moved to Chatham County from Indiana, she had done only high jump. After a few high jumps in practice, she said her coach came to her with what turned out to be sage advice.
“My coach was like, ‘Uh, you aren’t that good, let’s try another event,’ ” Sheets said as she recalled her path to the pole vault pit.
Part of being a good track and field coach is knowing what event an athlete will excel in, but Sheets has done more than excel. She’s dominated the 3A class for years and, last Saturday, won the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A indoor track and field championship in pole vault.
The Purdue recruit topped 12 feet, 7 inches, which was more than 2 1/2 feet taller than her next-best challenger.
But state championships don’t get old and Sheets isn’t aiming to clear just enough room to win gold. She’s aiming to be the best she can be next year.
She looks up videos of some of the sport’s best and tracks their feats to give her something to aim for. On Saturday, she was hoping for 13 feet, but getting one inch higher than her goal of 12 feet, 6 inches gave her something to be happy with.
“I always look at the Olympians, the college (athletes), I always look at who is better than me, even though I may not compete against them in a couple of years,” Sheets said. “I always hope to one day compete against the better people outside of my age.”
Also on Saturday, Northwood’s Cameron Council (6.44) was second in the boys’ 55-meter dash by one-hundreth of a second.