MARYSVILLE — By going 1-2 in the pole vault at the Tomahawk Classic — again — seniors Robin Mueller and Michaela Caldwell continued a peculiar rivalry.
The girls, among the best pole vaulters in the Western Conference with a year of state competition under their belts, have competed against each other nearly every meet for four years, and just happen to be teammates.
Training together adds a kind of familiarity and camaraderie that brings the two a lot closer than most rivals. And both Caldwell and Mueller look on the competition as a good thing.
“We’re always competing, but it’s always friendly,” Mueller said. “It’s nice having each other at a meet because we’ll always have competition.”
Aside from Stanwood senior Colleen Meas, there are not a lot of girls in Wesco who can consistently clear heights of 10 feet or higher. Part of that is due to the fact that the sport of pole vaulting is still relatively new to girls and has yet to hit critical mass.
Another factor might be that the sport is harder than it looks. While many track and field athletes compete in multiple events, pole vaulters typically specialize in their sport.
“You really have to concentrate on it,” Caldwell said.
“There are so many parts that are fundamental. You need to have your full speed on the runway,” added Mueller. “(Other athletes) think we’re lazy because we only run 80 feet, but we put all our energy into that 80 feet.”
The technical nature of pole vaulting means the vaulters spend a great deal of time together and describe themselves as a quirky bunch.
“We like to fling ourselves into the air,” Caldwell said.
“We’re our own little group, … our own little mob, and we stick together,” Mueller said, adding that she got into the sport after watching her older brother Brian, a 2004 M-P graduate, compete. Their common link? “He likes to do crazy things.”
The girls roughly split first-place finishes in a season. Mueller describes herself as a very consistent jumper, often making steady improvements throughout the track calendar. Caldwell typically peaks at the end of the season, throwing school record jumps at the end of her sophomore and junior seasons. As a sophomore, Caldwell cleared 10-7 for a then-best, but Mueller went to state by jumping 10 feet at districts. Last year, Mueller took fourth at districts and finished just shy of a second state season. That same meet, Caldwell broke the record again by jumping 10-9.
Mueller, who tried unsuccessfully to clear 11 feet at the Tomahawk Classic and break Caldwell’s record, tied her teammate’s 10-9 mark in a home meet earlier this season against Stanwood. While they hesitate to put a number on their individual jumping goals, the girls hope to travel to Pasco for the state track meet together this year.
Whether they’re successful in their mission, the girls will find out when Everett hosts districts May 14 and 16.