Name: Sommer Knight
Personal bests: Pole Vault: 12'7.5" (USC Open Invitational)
Academic interests: History is my favorite subject but I plan to major in exercise science in college and pursue a career in physical therapy.
Hobbies: Other that running track and playing volleyball I mostly like to spend time with my family.
Favorite quote: Success is born out of Faith, an Undying Passion, and a Relentless Drive. -Stephen Curry
How did you get involved in the sport?
In ninth grade I wasn't involved in a spring sport and our head track coach at the time asked me to come out and try pole vault. We had just gotten a new coach (Ariel Domke) and we had never had pole vault before.
I see you participate in multiple events. Do you have a favorite?
Pole vault is my favorite event just because it was my first and is my primary event. But the 4x100 is a close second. I love sprinting and working with my relay team to see how fast we can be collectively.
From your success in 2016, what do you hope to do the rest of this season?
For the rest of the season my goal is mostly to PR in our last few meets. I'm hoping to clear 13 feet by the end of the season and break the record at the state meet.
Do you have a specific motivation?
My biggest motivation is reaching my full potential as a vaulter and a sprinter. I know that I am capable of clearing much higher heights. I am always competing against myself. Getting a PR is much more satisfying than winning a competition. I also want to PR in the 4x100 and 100 because I most likely will only be competing in the pole vault in college. So I want to reach my full running potential by the end of this season.
What has been your biggest challenge in the sport?
My biggest challenge in track and field, specifically pole vault, has been my mental game. Up until this season I've limited myself due to unnecessary mental blocks and stress I bring upon myself. This year I have been much more relaxed and focused and that has contributed to my success this season.
What do you hope to achieve in the future upon graduation this May?
This summer I'm planning to relax and get ready for college. I've signed to pole vault for East Carolina University next year and am very excited about it!! I will continue to train through the summer and compete in a few meets just to keep in shape.
What do you hope to achieve this weekend during Class AA Lower State qualifier?
I'm hoping to qualify for state in all of my events. I've never competed in four events in a big meet before so I'll definitely have to be focused and give my all in every event this weekend.
Walk us through a pole vault event for you (from pre until post event).
Before a pole vault competition my teammates and I warm-up routine we go through together. We do certain stretches, pole run drills, and do short and long step vaults. The 4x100 usually comes between pole vault warm-up and competition so I check out and go meet with my relay team. We run our race and I return to the pole vault. By then it is usually time for me to come in (I usually enter the competition at 10'6" or 11'). As I work my way up through the heights I try to stay relaxed and focused and just vault to the best of my ability. My coach does a great job at keeping me calm and grounded during competition. After I scratch out we pack up our poles, I talk to my coach about my vaults, and I usually go rest for a while before I warm-up for my next race.
What goes through your mind during an event at a meet and at practice?
At meets and practice I try to stay relaxed and not stress myself out about clearing certain heights. I focus a lot on my technique and try to make every vault and run as powerful as I can. My coach is very good about keeping me calm so I don't freak out about missed attempts or messy vaults.
How do you look at being top ranked in the state in the pole vault?
It's been one of my goals since I started pole vault to be among the top in the state. I'm just glad to see my hard work in practice paying off.
How and when do you start training for track and field?
Playing volleyball takes up my fall but I start conditioning with my team in December. I compete in the regular outdoor season and in a couple of meets during the summer.
What goes through you mind during each competition?
In competition I try to focus on my own jumps and not worry about the success or failure of the girls I'm competing against (other than supporting my teammates). What motivates me the most to do well in competition is having my friends and family there watching. I always want to put on a show for them.
What do you enjoy the most about the Woodland team?
What I love about my team is that we all support each other in our different events and push each other to be better at meets and in practice. We hold each other to a higher standard and it makes us all more successful.
What do you feel you have learned from your coaches, teammates and the sport?
I owe all of my success to all of my coaches: James, Johnson, Gaddist, Klinger, Tawana and Teddy Britt, and especially Coach Domke (pole vault). Even though not all of them coach me personally, they've all taught me how to push myself and all have high expectations for me. Coach Domke has taught me everything I know about pole vault and I wouldn't be where I am now without her. She is also a great teacher and mentor and has always been supportive of me in all of my decisions. My teammates also push me to be better. We compete against each other in practice and it helps us all become more competitive athletes. Participating in track & field has taught me a lot of discipline (physical and mental) and although some think of it to be more of an individual sport, it has taught me team work and leadership skills. Pulling off a team win is much sweeter than an individual victory.
What would like to see happen in the future in the sport?
I would like to see more people come out for track. A lot of people run away from it because they don't want to run a lot or they're scared of the field events. I would also like to see high school athletes (especially the girls) hold themselves to a higher standard because I know we are capable of much more.
Do you see yourself coaching in the future?
I do see myself coaching in the future. I love learning the process of pole vault and running technique and enjoy watching others progress in their specialty.
If there is one thing in the world you could do, what would it be and why?
If I could do anything I would love to fulfill my dream of becoming an official physical therapist/athletic trainer for Team U.S.A. I would love the chance to work with professional athletes and help them prevent and/or rehab injuries.
Name: Sommer Knight