A few members of the Port St. Joe summer track club paid a visit to the Jacksonville Zoo last weekend.
Dyson Kent, Celeste Chiles and Lily Wockenfuss participated in an invitational pole vaulting event sponsored by the Jacksonville Athletic Club and the city’s zoo.
“They all did great,” said Coach Keith Chiles. “They had us right in the middle of the zoo.”
And, so, with exotic birds chirping in the background, more than 50 vaulters, male and female, participated in the event.
Twenty-six men and boys competed, 28 girls and women.
There were no age groups, as Wockenfuss, poised to enter high school, competed against women up to college age; the winner on the female side was a vaulter from Florida State University.
“She likes the competition,” Coach Chiles said.
Despite her youth, Wockenfuss finished fifth with a height of 10-feet-3.
“I had 11 feet in my mind, so I wasn’t that happy,” Wockenfuss said. “I liked jumping against the bigger girls.”
Celeste Chiles was in the same field and no-heighted.
“She no-heighted but she really jumped good,” Coach Chiles said.
Kent, who graduated from Port St. Joe High School in 2017 and is attending Gulf Coast State College while continuing to train with Coach Chiles, finished third in the boys’ competition.
And “boys” might be a misnomer, considering the winner was a professional vaulter and the second-place finisher a collegian.
Kent finished at 14-feet-10.
“He had a great day,” Coach Chiles said.
The “Zoo Vault” brought to an end a summer of success for the Port St. Joe Track Club, with members excelling at a recent Junior Olympic regional qualifier and the Ernie Sims Invitational.
Most of the members will be gathering again in December as preparation for the scholastic track and field season begins.