Desiree Freier stands a little over 5 feet, but she can go higher than most would dare.
As the defending Class 5A state champion pole vaulter, the Northwest junior has been going no where but higher since she clinched the title with a vault of 12-9 last spring.
Freier not only wants to repeat; she wants to take a shot at the high school national record.
She has possibly two more meets this season to reach her goal-if she can advance out of the Class 5A Region I meet in Lubbock this weekend. Freier finished second there a year ago.
The top three finishers will go to the state meet May 10-11 in Austin.
“That’s what I want to jump,” Freier said. “That has been my goal for the whole year. I want to get to 14-3 which would be the high school record.”
At the pace she is going it might not be much longer. Freier had a personal best of 13-0 heading into this season, and has already surpassed that with ease.
At the Aledo meet she hit 13-6, and at the area meet in Coppell last week she got all the way to 13-7. She took first place by nearly 2 feet.
“She is a lot more consistent this year,” Northwest track coach George Lutkenhaus said. “Even when she has a bad day it’s just as good as her good days last year.
“She has had a great outdoor season, and we are just kind of looking forward to what she is going to do from here.”
It has been a fast start for Freier, who got started in the sport at 10 at her stepdad’s workout facility.
“I saw these people vaulting, and I thought ‘These people are flying in the air and I want to do that, too!'” she said. “I got into the sport and started vaulting at camps. After a few years I started jumping higher and higher.”
A natural at the sport, Freier took off by the age of 12. With her family as her coach, she was able to take advantage of everything at her disposal.
“A lot of people have to drive to go work out, and I just have to go to my back yard,” Freier explains. “My brother is my coach, and he can push me in ways that I don’t get as frustrated. I’m very lucky to have that.”
Her dedication to the sport has paid dividends. One of the top pole-vaulting schools in the country, Arkansas, has taken interest along with Central Florida.
“This is my way to college, and I want to do the best I can at it,” Freier said. “Pole vaulting has changed my life.
“I was very shy when I was little, and now I’m very open to people. Pole vaulting is a drive not only for sports but for myself.”
Next year in her senior campaign Freier wants to add the sprint relay to her repertoire. Her parents had discouraged running, but Freier wants to be a bigger part of the group.
“I feel like I’m by myself out here, and I want to be more with the team,” she said. “My parents didn’t want me to run anymore because it was a lot of work on my legs, but I love running the 4×100, and I’m going to do it.”
Before she prepares to run next season, she has to get through the windy plains of Lubbock. The stiff competition has already caught up to her. She will be the second highest qualifier at the Region I meet, behind Waco Midway’s Annie Rhodes, who got to 14-0 at her regional meet.
“Our region is pretty messy as far as girls’ vaulting goes. It’s about as good as it gets,” Lutkenhaus said. “You never know what’s going to happen on any given day. She can pop one anytime.”
Freier and Rhodes are good friends, and when they go head-to-head against each other this weekend Lutkenhaus says it can make a difference.
“When the competition is there they feed off each other,” he said. “They all know each other, and a lot of them train with each other. Every year it gets more competitive, and they go a little higher and a little higher.
“Not that long ago if you were a 10-foot vaulter you were a stud, and now they are shooting for 14.”
Freier just hopes it is one step closer to another state title and a national record.