Greenville freshman sets pole vault record


By Bruce Bentley • Last Updated 9:40 am on Thursday, May 08, 2014

Greenville freshman Landon Kemp attempts a pole vault during a meet at Yellow Jacket Stadium this season. Kemp set the school record with a vault of 11-7 on April 26. – Jamie McNinch

GREENVILLE — It was just a matter of time before Landon Kemp set the Greenville High School girls pole vault record.

The freshman, who has been pole vaulting since fifth grade, set the school record on April 26 at the Fulton Invitational with a vault of 11-7. The vault broke the previous record of 11-6 set by Audrey Wyse in 2013.

“We were going to raise it up to 11-6, but coach said let’s try 11-7 so I can try to break the record,” Kemp said. “I made it on my first attempt.”

Kemp said she was shocked she broke the record.

“I just finished my third flight of hurdles and they were rushing me, so the boys could go,” she said. “I didn’t have much time to get ready, so I just went for it and got it. I was so shocked.”

In seven meets this year, Kemp has placed first at six of the meets. The lone loss, a second place finish, came in Kemp’s first high school meet at the indoor GVSU Laker Challenge.

“I didn’t know how quickly she would break the record, but I knew she would get there and I think she will break it again,” Greenville coach Sharon Gianacakos said. “She is a great asset to the program. I wish I could clone her.”

Kemp has been pole vaulting since the fifth grade after quitting gymnastics. It was a former Greenville pole vaulter, Zak Adkins-Korson, who suggested she try pole vaulting.

“Zac actually told me I should try pole vaulting,” Kemp said. “He said gymnasts were good at pole vaulting. So I gave it a try.”

After a year of struggling and with thoughts that pole vaulting might not be for her, Kemp kept at it, and eventually improved.

“Everyone said I was so young and I should keep going,” Kemp said. “I ended up really liking it and getting a lot better.”

Kemp pole vaults year round. She practices twice a week at  Landon Athletics in Nashville (Mich.) and competes in events statewide. Kemp even qualified for nationals as an eighth grader, while competing against high school athletes.

As a seventh grader, Kemp vaulted a high of 9-6. That increased in eighth grade to 10-6 and this year as a freshman, Kemp has reached 11-7.

“It’s a goal of mine to go up a foot every year,” Kemp said. “It’s going to be hard.”

Kemp also competes in the long jump and both the 100- and 300-meter hurdles. She excels in those three events, as well.

“She is a hard worker. She is determined,” Gianacakos said. “She is very competitive and driven.”

So far this season, Kemp has not lost in the long jump or 100 hurdles. She lost once in the 300 hurdles after tripping on a hurdle and finished fifth. Kemp had won the preliminary heat prior to the trip.

Kemp’s bests this season are 17-3 in the long jump, 15.83 in the 100 hurdles and 51.63 in the 300 hurdles.

While the high school track season is starting to wind down, Kemp has some goals for the remaining of the season.

“I’m trying to stay in the 17s (feet) in the long jump and I’m hoping to break my own school record in the pole vault,” Kemp said. “The goal is to go higher, but as long as I jump well, I’ll be OK.”

Greenville will compete Thursday (field events) and Friday (track events) at the O-K Bronze Conference meet at Housman Field in Grand Rapids.

The MHSAA Division regional meet is May 16 at Grand Haven.

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