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Final try wins for GAC pole vaulter

Photo: Larry G. Williams. GAC's Caroline Bond clears the bar during the pole vault at the state track meet Friday.

Photo: Larry G. Williams. GAC's Caroline Bond clears the bar during the pole vault at the state track meet Friday.

ALBANY -- Brad Kinser was a nervous wreck.

The Greater Atlanta Christian track and field coach anxiously paced the infield at Hugh Mills Stadium at the girls track and field championships.

It was a year ago Kinser had the top pole vaulter in the state and watched her finish second.

On Friday, he was in the same position. Caroline Bond entered the meet as the top pole vaulter, but after two failed attempts was in danger of finishing second.

On her third try, she brought a smile to Kinser's face.

Bond cleared 12 feet to win the Class AA pole vault state championship.

"That jump, she had to have it. All the pressure was on her," Kinser said. "I was about to pass out from the heat over there."

Bond was one of three state placers for GAC on Friday. Danielle Moss won the shot put state championship and Kayin Mujahid was eighth in the triple jump.

Moss missed being a state champion by one inch last year. The senior made sure that didn't happen again on Friday.

Moss had a throw of 42 feet, 51/2 inches to claim the Class AA state title, beating the runner-up by nearly four feet.

"That's all I could think about, don't lose by one inch," Moss said. "I made sure no one would take it away from me. I just didn't want to lose again."

Moss' state championship throw was a personal record for the senior, who will throw for Jacksonville State University next season. Her old PR was 40-2 set at the Region 6-AA meet two weeks ago.

"After what happened to her last year, I'm so proud of her," Kinser said.

After Bond cleared 12 feet in the pole vault, she stood up on the landing pad and threw her arms up with a big smile. She then jumped down and hugged her vault coach Cook Holiday.

"Without him, I wouldn't be anywhere close to where I am now," Bond said. "He's been there for me for four years."

It's been a long journey for Bond to win the state championship. As a freshman she failed to qualify for state on three misses. She was sick as a sophomore and fell as a junior.

"She's like an oak tree that has grown. Four years ago she was just an acorn off a tree," said Holiday, who has coached 20 pole vault state champs. "She's the total package. I've never seen a girl like her with the best technique."

Claire Goodson entered last year's meet as the state's top vaulter, but finished second. It was the same scenario on Friday. Bond entered the state meet as not only the top vaulter this season, but in Georgia history. She won the Region 6-AA title with a state-best of 12 feet, 53/4 inches.

The only thing left to do was win a championship.

"My wife asked me last week why I get like this," Holiday said. "To have someone this good, we just had to prove it."

The title came down to Blessed Trinity's Samantha Sanchez, the defending state champion, North Oconee's Sydney Rodkey and Bond.

Sanchez went out at 11 feet, leaving Rodkey and Bond to battle for the title.

"I knew what she could do. We've competed a lot," Bond said.

Rodkey cleared 11-6 on her first attempt, but it took Bond two tries. When they got to 12 feet, Rodkey missed all three attempts and Bond failed on her first two. A miss on the final try and Rodkey would have won state on number of attempts.

It never came to that as Bond easily cleared 12 feet and then tried to break her own state record at 12-6, but failed.

"I was pretty nervous," Bond said. "I was just thinking this is what I've worked for all year. My main goal was to do my best. I feel like I did that."

Bond's state championship height set the new Class AA state meet record. It also tied the all-time all-classification mark and was the best at this year's meet.

"She has the best jump in the history of Georgia and she's a state champ. It's the best of both worlds," Kinser said. "Today it was about being a state champ. We love to see our seniors go out like this."

Parkview's Indiah Bell and Peachtree Ridge's Shoiban Fraser placed in two events in Class AAAAA. Bell was second in the triple jump and fifth in the long jump. Fraser took fifth in the high jump and was seventh in the triple jump.

Gwinnett claimed four of the top six spots in the pole vault. Brookwood's Brittany Brown was second due to attempts at 10-6. Collins Hill's Megan Kellar was fourth, North Gwinnett's Taylor Pullen was fifth and Central Gwinnett's Raven Norwood took sixth.

Wesleyan's Holli Wilkins finished in the top three in both throwing events in Class A. Wilkins was second in the shot put with a toss of 38-11 and third in the discus with a throw of 114-5.

Erika Ramsey finished her impressive distance running career with a runner-up finish in the 1,600. The 2008 cross country state champion took second in the 1,600 last year. She will run in the 800 and 1,600 relay today.