When Lindsey Murray gets in her starting position and stares down at the pit before she prepares to vault, she really only has but one thought in her head. She just wants to do better than she did the last time.
Its the perseverance and drive that makes the Harrisburg High School junior the state contender she has become the past three years for the Bulldog track and field team.
Murray doesn't shy away from her expectations. It's made her the athlete she is today. Truth be told, Murray is rarely content with anything significant.
"I constantly feel like I have more pressure on me," Murray said as she prepares for her third straight appearance in the pole vault at this weekend's IHSA Class 2A State Track & Field finals at Eastern Illinois University.
"I'm older, I'm supposed to be more experienced and I'm just expected to jump higher."
Murray has made significant strides - even this year - as she surpassed last year's state performance of 10-foot-9 to achieve a height of 11-foot-7, setting the record at Harrisburg High School. That height was also a meet record at this year's Benton Invitational.
She returns to EIU in quest of becoming a champion and while she knows she has some stiff competition, she also has some personal goals in mind.
"I just want another PR," Murray said Thursday prior to leaving for Charleston. "I would like to place in the top three. That's my goal, but I just thank God everyday for giving me this opportunity. It's something that doesn't come along very often and I've been able to do it for three years in a row now. I don't take that for granted and I don't take for granted the support I have had from many family and friends a long the way."
Murray will have to compete in today's preliminary's, just to make it to Saturday's finals.
She qualified at sectionals with a jump of 9-9 and did so on a pair of new poles she admits she wasn't very confident with.
Murray said she's moved up with several poles since then and has a bag of three she's using this week.
One is a 12-6, 145 pole, the other two include a 12-6, 150 pole and a 13-1, 130 pole.
In a practice session after sectionals, Murray cleared 11-4. That might have pushed Murray to keep going, but she has another force close by her side that pushes her even more.
Murray's mom, Julia is always watching with intensity when her daughter jumps. It's that intensity that Murray says keeps her on her toes.
"She's my biggest supporter and she is on top of things. She makes sure I get my workout in. She pushes me, but I wouldn't have it any other way."
Page 2 of 2 - Also by Murray's side is longtime friend Ron Brachear, who Murray says with his continued support and dedication, she wouldn't be where she's at.
"I definitely wouldn't be here without Ron. I never would have even thought about the pole vault. He introduced me to it and I wouldn't be where I'm at without his coaching. He's changed my life."
Michael Dann can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org