CHS Ladycat pole vaulter will continue flying high in college

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The first Ladycat to ever pole vault for Cassville High School has earned a spot on the Missouri University of Science and Technology's track and field team in the fall.

Brittney Wilbanks confirmed her decision to pole vault in college after talking to MST Coach Sterling Martin by telephone last week.

"He seems like a really nice guy who is easy to get along with," said Brittney. "I'm really excited about this opportunity."

Brittney, who is a member of Cassville High School's Class of 2008, said she didn't ever plan to pole vault in college but after taking up the sport as a sophomore and improving her clearance height each year, her options expanded.

"Over the past several years, I started trying harder and pushing myself and I got a lot better," said Brittney. "It's something I wanted to do but never knew I could do."

This year, Brittney set a new school record by clearing 10', which was enough to earn her the attention of college coaches. As a sophomore, Brittney's best was 8'6" and as a junior, she cleared 9'. Brittney was not allowed to compete in pole vault as a freshman.

"Brittney has been very committed and has spent countless hours at home and on the weekends practicing," said Ladycat track coach Brian Wilbanks, who also happens to be Brittney's father.

Coach Wilbanks said his daughter has battled injury but hung on to clear new heights.

This spring, in addition to setting a new pole vault record, Brittney also claimed the Big 8 title and finished second at districts and sectionals. She was also a member of the 4x100 relay team that set a new school record with a time of 52.5.

This Friday, she will be competing at the Class 3 state track and field championships at Lincoln University in Jefferson City.

"This is what I have been working for all year," said Brittney. "My goal is to be in the top eight and get a medal and get to stand on the stage."

In addition to competing as a member of the Ladycat track team for the past four years, Wilbanks also played basketball for four years and soccer for one year.

During her senior season, Brittney had the unique pleasure of being coached by her father in both soccer and track.

"It's fun to have him as my coach," said Brittney. "He's pushed me and we train together on weekends. He's been a big help."

Brittney has also received a lot of support from her mom, Angie, and younger brothers, Corey and Caleb, who also compete for Cassville in soccer and track.

At Missouri University of Science and Technology, Brittney plans to major in science. Her ultimate career goal is to become a veterinarian.

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