Scottsdale Prep Academy (AZ) coach Bob Shisler has an idea where Alexandria Goodson, his senior pole vaulter, gets her strength.
"It's her rock climbing background," Shisler said. "Definitely the grip, the arm strength, the tenacity it takes to climb, it has transferred really well."
Less than a month after scoring a personal record mark of 12 feet 4 inches at the National Pole Vault Summit in Reno, Nevada, Goodson will return to the indoor season with perhaps another big attempt at the Great Southwest Indoor High School Classic on Saturday at the Albuquerque Convention Center in
Albuquerque, New Mexico.
"She's on a couple of new poles, and she's been looking really good," Shisler said. "Even her misses have been really good. So I think if she can put it together, she might even be able to get to 13 feet."
Goodson agrees on that assessment, particularly because she barely missed at 12-8 in January.
"That would be an amazing thing to accomplish," she said. "Especially considering I'm getting on bigger poles and my runs are getting a lot faster."
Goodson's development as of late has been a boon for her future, too. She signed with Rice University in November after considering Cornell, Dartmouth, Williams and Oberlin.
But Goodson, who uses a 13-foot pole and takes off from 91 feet and 6 inches on the runway, isn't the prototypical pole vaulter, either. Unlike stronger, taller, more physically dominant counterparts, Goodson only checks in at 5-foot-5 and about 110 pounds.
Shisler says looks can be deceiving.
"In pole vault, confidence is everything," he said. "So the more she can do that and the more she can clear those heights, then she can start doing it consistently. She expects herself to do it every time out. I've been around pole vaulters for 30 years, it's all about confidence."
Goodson is also one of Scottsdale Prep's most versatile athletes. Over the outdoor season, she runs in the 100m, 200m and competes on the team's 4x100m squad. She even can perform the 110m hurdles in a pinch and can long jump, triple jump and high jump.
That versatility was on display at the Arizona State Decathlon/Heptathlon in May when Goodson placed second overall. She scored big wins in the discus (first), long jump (first) and pole vault (first) and added solid scoring marks in the 100m hurdles (third), 100m (second), 400m (third).
"I know she enjoys doing the decathlon," Shisler said, adding that since the decathlon isn't offered to women in NCAA competition -- the heptathlon doesn't have the pole vault, either -- Goodson likely won't continue that at the next level.
Goodson's ability to explode toward the box from her 40-foot approach is what gives her an ability to connect on big heights, Shisler said.
"She has good speed on the runway," he said. "And she does a good job on jumping and pulling on that pole and rocking back."
But Goodson also makes sure to mention her improved technique. Over the past couple months, she said, she's seeing a major difference in her attempts.
"My takeoffs are going upwards instead of forward," she said. "I think I can make the step because of that."
When Goodson arrives in Albuquerque, she certainly has some goals in mind. And yet, before anything else, she'll likely be competing against herself.
"She never talks about 'I want to win' or 'I want to place,'" Shisler said. "It's all about getting to that next height."
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