Perham senior Ashley Hokanson was once intimidated by the pole vault. On Saturday, she became a two-time Minnesota Class 1A champion in the pole vault and the new state record holder at Hamline University.
Hokanson won the title when she cleared 11 feet, 9 inches, but she continued to raise the bar. She eventually cleared 12-7 to set the record. She tried to clear 12-10 but was unable.
"It feels amazing," Hokanson said. "I knew I could do it, so I went in confident. There was a little more pressure, being ranked first and winning last year. It was a lot more pressure than normal."
Hokanson set a personal record of 12-6 earlier this season, which helped her realize she could achieve the Class 1A mark. She said she felt the pressure even after securing the title when she was the only vaulter to clear 11 feet, 9 inches.
Hokanson said it was a different feeling entering this year’s championships as the defending Class 1A champion. She said she had to be confident and know that she could do it.
"I didn’t have to take as many jumps, especially after we started moving up in 3-inch increments," Hokanson said of her goal.
Rockford’s Alayna Schloeder came in second with a height of 11-6.
"I like competition, so I think that helped me do what I could do," Hokanson said. "There was a real strong competition this year."
After hitting 12-6, Hokanson said she knew she could attain the Class 1A record height and set out to do it.
"After (getting 12-6 earlier in the season), I knew I could easily get that," Hokanson said. "I am relieved, but I still have to keep working for my upcoming years."
After overcoming her fears of the pole vault, Hokanson said she thought it would be fun and couldn’t believe it brought her to this point.
"It feels very good, and it was definitely worth it," Hokanson said.