For a moment Saturday afternoon, Desiree Freier’s chance at back-to-back state pole vaulting titles was in serious jeopardy.
After missing twice at 13 feet, six inches, the Northwest High School junior had to get it in her final attempt or the title would go to Waco Midway’s Annie Rhodes.
With the pressure on, Freier nailed the vault. She went on to get 13-9 in the next round to break the state record and claim the Class 5A pole vault championship.
Rhodes missed all three of her attempts at 13-9, giving Freier the gold. The win clinched her second consecutive state title. She took second her freshman year.
The usually-reserved Freier was already celebrating her record-breaking jump before she hit the mat.
“Anytime that I’ve gotten a PR [personal record] I’ve never jumped up and down and clapped my hands,” she said. “I usually just stand up smile and wave. Today was pretty exciting.”
The vault capped off an exciting head-to-head showdown. After the bar went to 13-3, only Freier and Rhodes were left standing.
Both easily got to 13-6. Freier missed her first two attempts at the height, while Rhodes nailed her second attempt to grab the lead.
Freier was down to her final chance.
“It was very nerve-racking. I had to bring it on that last jump,” Freier said. “I had to put everything in it. I had to know where my body was position and I had to be very careful on that jump. I just knew that I had to do it.”
The successful leap switched the momentum. After being so close to the gold, Rhodes had to settle for second.
The two have been great friends and rivals in the event. Freier says there is a lot of respect between all the competitiors.
“We push each other a lot,” Freier explained. “We are all like sisters. It’s a love-hate relationship. We want each other to do good, but we also want to do well ourselves.”
With the gold medal already in hand, Freier took another shot at getting closer to the national record of 14-3. She missed on three attempts at 14-0.
“I wanted to try to get the national record this year,” Freier said. “I didn’t get it, but I had some pretty good jumps at it.”
And there’s a good chance she’ll be back next year.