Irvine finds success close to home

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Halle Irvine practices pole vault in the field house.

Halle Irvine practices pole vault in the field house.

Xander Fu

Xander Fu

Halle Irvine practices pole vault in the field house.

Natalie Hyland, Co-Editor

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For sophomore All-American pole vaulter Halle Irvine, family has always played a role in her choice to pursue a track and field career.

“My mom did long jump,” Irvine said. “My brother [vaulted]. I watched him do it and was like ‘oh that looks really cool.’”

Irvine’s older brother Zane also attended CWU and currently sits at number nine on the men’s pole vault top ten list. The younger Irvine started vaulting the summer before her freshman year and has never looked back.

On March 9, Irvine took sixth at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field National Championships with a personal record height of 3.82 meters (12.5 feet).

“Every time you PR or get over a new high bar, it’s a really cool feeling coming down knowing that you’re gonna make it,” Irvine said. “It always keeps you coming back and wanting to get just a little bit more.”

Irvine was one of four Wildcats to earn All-American status at the meet. Kodiak Landis, Ali Anderson and HarLee Ortega also placed in the top eight in their respective events.

Irvine says that even though she made nationals, she didn’t have very high expectations for the meet.

“I was literally the last person to get in [for vault],” Irvine said. “I was just trying to go in and do my best.”

After she cleared 3.82 meters, she missed her three attempts at the next height and was left waiting for her competitors to either make it or break it.

Less than half an hour later, she was named an All-American.

In the gym, Irvine practices three times a week with her vault coach James “JT” Statler to work on strength training and technique.

“There’s a lot of technique work. You have to be able to run with the pole, you have to be able to plant the pole,” Irvine said. “Being able to swing and get on top of the pole takes a lot of different muscle groups and strengths.”

Unlike most college athletes, Irvine has worked with her coach since high school. Statler is from Yakima and works with high schoolers in the area, including those at Irvine’s old high school, twice a week.

“I have high expectations for everyone,” Statler said. “[Halle] did a lot of work this summer and I kind of expected [her to do well].”

During the summer, Irvine worked out with Statler a few times a week. She said when working out with him, there were times she was sore the next day.

“I was doing rings and ropes and there were days I couldn’t hold onto anything [because] my hands hurt so bad,” Irvine said. “It [was] definitely a lot of hard work getting to the point I’m at, but I think it was worth it.”

Irvine’s teammate Kayla Wyatt, a freshman, echoed the sentiment, calling her “very determined to achieve her goals” and “inspiring to watch.”

“She’s very passionate [and] her work ethic definitely shows that,” Wyatt said. “She puts in a lot of work in practice and outside of practice.”

Wyatt first met Irvine when she visited CWU on a recruiting visit and connected with her instantly.

“She’s the only one who really talked to me and she answered all my questions,” Wyatt said.

The two are the only female vaulters for CWU this year, after senior and school record holder McKenna Emmert graduated last June.

“One [girl] left and another one came in,” Statler said. “[Irvine] at least got to spend the year with a senior. She saw how the leadership role was done and how practice should be.”

Looking ahead, Irvine has set her sights on outdoor nationals and breaking the school and GNAC women’s vaulting records.

“I think I still have a lot more left in me,” Irvine said.

 

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Irvine finds success close to home