As a burgeoning pole vaulter, Solanco’s Katie Urbine emulated the state’s top talents, hoping to one day echo their exploits.
Now, Urbine is the gold standard, the symbol of excellence future pole vaulters will be measured against.
Gold as in gold medal.
Urbine captured the PIAA 3A pole vault Friday morning at Shippensburg University, eclipsing the state meet record set by one of her idols.
The Solanco senior was the only competitor to clear 13 feet, 9 inches, bettering the mark of 13-3 set by Manheim Township’s Mackenzie Horn in 2018.
Mackenzie and Sydney Horn and Chloe Timberg, a Central Bucks West grad who has the Big 10 record of 14 feet, 7.5 inches while competing for Rutgers, set the bar. Urbine sailed over it.
“All my goodness,” Urbine said. “When I think back to my sophomore year, watching Chloe Timberg win, knowing the Horns were legacies in Pennsylvania, I just really wanted to live up to that. I just finally did.”
For the second straight year, the event was decided between Urbine and her friend and Philly Jumps Club teammate Veronica Vacca of Mount Saint Joseph.
Last season, Urbine and Vacca both cleared 13 feet with Vacca winning because she had fewer misses.
This year, Urbine left no doubt.
Vacca and Urbine both joined the competition at 11 feet, 9 inches. Vacca missed her first attempt and the Mules’ star cleared easily.
A fact that wasn’t lost on the Solanco senior, whose edge increased when Vacca missed also missed at 12-9 and twice at 13-3.
“I am very honed in on what everybody else is doing,” Urbine said. “I am placing myself in the order the whole meet. Being clean was super helpful for me. Kirstin (Hoffman of Kennett, who placed third at 12-9) was clean most of the meet, too. It was us going back and forth then when me and Veronica made 13-3, I had made it on my second and she had made it on her third, so I knew I going in seeded first.”
Before missing all three attempts at 14-feet, Urbine’s only hiccup came on her first try at 13-3, when she tried to hold back but couldn’t stop in time. It turned out to be merely a minor blip on the radar.
“When I was attempting 13-3, the wind messed messed me up in the run so I figured I would stop, go back and retry, because you’re allowed to do that,” said Urbine. “Unfortunately, I didn’t know the rule was that if your pole crosses the plane of where the back of the box is, it’s a foul. I went in fully convinced it was your body. So I was a little upset about that but I made it on my second attempt so that was good. Then just being able to attempt 13-9 was incredible. I knew I was going to go for the record, hopefully, at this meet, getting another PR and another record is absolutely incredible.”
Vacca had an opportunity to stay alive by also clearing 13-9. Before Vacca’s third jump, Urbine had to leave the pole vault area to check in for the 4 x 100 relay.
“I just saw the end of it, but watching her miss, obviously I want her to make it, but it feels really good to win as a senior. I feel so honored and blessed.”
A PIAA championship was the only thing missing from Urbine’s resumé. Covid canceled her freshman outdoor season, but Urbine still collected two Lancaster-Lebanon League titles, two District III titles, and two PTFCA state indoor titles.
“I think for indoor, there are just less people who do it in general,” Urbine said. “Winning is impressive but it’s not even recognized by the school because it’s not an actual PIAA sport. Being a state champion in an actual PIAA sport is so incredible.”
Urbine did not begin pole vaulting until the summer before her freshman year. “I honestly can’t explain it. I never saw this coming,” she said. “I remember the first pole vault meet I ever watched (at age 14), one of my friends jumped 10 feet. I said, ‘Oh my goodness, I will never jump that high. There’s no way. That’s so high.’ I never would’ve expected it.”
Urbine is proud to be a Golden Mule and help put the school back in the track and field spotlight.
“Solanco, I feel like, is under the radar,” the Liberty University commit said. “We used to be really good at track but it’s just a sport not a lot of people do. But I think it i super important. Because if you think about, track is like the original sport. Doing it for Solanco is incredible because it’s such a nice place to live. It’s such a cool school. And people have never heard of it. It’s cool to be able to represent the little guy and win big for them.”
Solanco coach Jen McDowell says Urbine’s confidence ability to stay calm make the difference.
“She’s a big believer, as I am, that she can do it,” McDowell said. “To be able to focus on a very technical event is amazing. Her growth and her maturity over the last four years, even the last year, for her to be able to attempt 13-9 and not even second-guess it, is truly a testament to her hard work and maturity. I’m just kind of in awe. I am excited and emotional all at the same time.”
Urbine set two records in record-setting time.
Fifteen minutes after winning pole vault gold, Urbine ran the first leg of the Mules’ 4 x 100 relay team. Urbine, Olianna Oravitz, Sarah Bard, and Emma Housekeeper broke their own school record in 48.77 seconds, the 10th fastest time in Friday’s trials.