Paso Robles pole vaulter Codie Wilshusen stood and looked at the 12-foot bar hanging overhead.
Quite a distance, considering she stands at just 4-foot-11.
Just off the runway to her left, her father and coach Jim Wilshusen looked on, decked out in a maroon track suit. The crowd that filled the Atascadero High School bleachers for the PAC 8 Track and Field Championships cheered her on.
Wilshusen took off in a full sprint, planted the pole and catapulted herself up and over the bar. The crowed erupted as she threw her hands into the air and ran toward her father. The two hugged as the crowd’s roar grew in one of the more memorable moments from Thursday’s meet.
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“It was amazing,” Wilshusen said. “I have been wanting 12 (feet) for a while now, so it was really good to be able to get over it today. And to have the whole crowd cheering me on felt really good, it definitely gave me that extra motivation. It was really exciting.”
Now a junior, Wilshusen first started pole vaulting in seventh grade when her father exposed her to the sport.
“He told me he had a couple of gymnastics bars and a trampoline, so I was instantly hooked,” said Wilshusen, a long-time gymnast. “It feels like I’m flying. Being 4-foot-11 and jumping over 12 feet in the air, it’s just like I have little wings. That’s like the best way to explain it.”
Wilshusen — who has also competed in the 400 and 100 meters and in the 4x100 relay for the Bearcats this season — had been clearing 12 feet in practice, but never in a meet. By doing so on Thursday, she broke Kate Moore’s school record of 11-8 and qualified for a spot in the sectional qualifiers.
“Deep down inside, you are always rooting for your own kid to do better than you did in high school,” Jim said. “I did 13 feet in high school, and she did 12 feet as a junior. And she is going to surpass me, I hope.”
“It’s amazing being able to have my dad as my coach,” Wilshusen said. “He was a pole vaulter, and to have him coach me through all this, it is just great. I wouldn’t want anyone else to coach me.”
Wilshusen had three tries at 12-5 to break her new school record. But despite the entire crowd cheering her on and her dad using body English to help her over, she wasn’t able to clear it.
It didn’t really matter at that point. The Wilshusens had already won the day with a hug that those watching will likely never forget.
“As a father,” Jim said welling up, “when your kid comes and gives you a hug like that, it’s amazing.”