By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Hallah Panther, a junior at Cherokee High School, has qualified for the North Carolina 1A State Indoor Track and Field meet. With a jump of 8-0 during a meet at Franklin High School on Tuesday, Feb. 15, Panther qualified for the state meet scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 9 at the JDL Fast Track facility in Winston-Salem.
“Now, we’ll just let her continue to climb the ladder to the top and see where she goes,” said Eddie Swimmer, Cherokee High School track and field head coach.
In just her third year of pole vaulting, Panther has already made her mark in the sport and has shown that clearing 8-0 is no problem. As a freshman, she cleared 8-6 to win the Smoky Mountain Conference and then followed that up by winning the 1A West Regional title with a jump of 9-6. Last year, as a sophomore, she repeated as Smoky Mountain Conference champion with a jump of 9-6 and went on to take second place in the region with a jump of 9-6 and fourth place at the 1A state meet with a 9-0 jump.
Panther started in ninth grade at Coach Swimmer’s request. “I saw her attitude and her build for the sport, and I just asked her to do it. She tried it and fell in love with it, and each year she’s getting more and more dedicated to it.”
He said you have to be a true athlete to enter the sport of pole vaulting. “You have to be a sprinter, have core and upper body strength, and be fearless – have no fear of heights.”
The day after qualifying for the state meet, Panther finished in first place with a jump of 8-0 at the Bulldog Chiller at Murphy High School.