Saturday didn’t start out to be a very promising day for Pleasant Valley junior Rachel Faucett but it got a lot better. By the end of the day, Faucett was the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s record holder in the indoor high jump for Class 1A-3A with a jump of 5 feet, 7 inches. The previous record of 5-6 had stood since 1981.By comparison this year, 5-4 was the winning jump in Class 4A-5A, Class 6A and Class 7A.
Practice hadn’t gone well leading up to the AHSAA indoor state meet in Birmingham last weekend. Then Faucett said she was stuck in traffic on her way to the meet Saturday, making her more nervous as she worried about being late.
“I thought I was going to do awful Saturday,” Faucett said Monday morning. “I wasn’t doing good at practice. I think the highest I got was 5-2. That whole day I was thinking, ‘I’m going to do awful,’ but I did OK.”
Actually, she did much better than OK. She destroyed her competition. Four feet, two inches was Saturday’s starting height. Faucett started at 4-10. Of the 15 others in the event, nine had been eliminated before 4-10.
As the No. 1 seed, Faucett got to jump last at each new height. By the time she jumped and cleared the bar on her first attempt at 4-10, four more had missed leaving only Faucett and two jumpers from Bayside Academy, Amber Mason and Catherine West. West was eliminated at 5-0 and Mason cleared that height on her third and final try. Faucett again needed only one jump and the bar moved up to 5-2.
Mason missed her first try at 5-2 then passed to 5-4. Faucett again jumped once to advance. At 5-4, Mason failed twice and was eliminated. Faucett cleared 5-4 on her second attempt. As the only remaining competitor, she asked that the bar be set at 5-7, one inch above the existing record, but missed on her first two tries.
After two misses, “I was walking in circles, praying,” Faucett recalled. “I was like, ‘Hey, this is your last chance. You have to get it.’ I focused really hard and ran as fast as I could because the speed is what really helps you.”
In the blink of an eye, she was not only the 2017 indoor champion but a record holder as well.
“I didn’t really think anything. I was just really happy,” she said.
Missing three times at 5-8 – “I’ll always keep going.” – didn’t lessen that joy and sense of accomplishment.
Faucett, who almost didn’t compete during the indoor season this year, now turns her attention to outdoor track. Pleasant Valley’s first meet will come in early March. She wants to better the existing outdoor record of 5-8 this year. She’d also like to win the 800-meter run, where she was third at last year’s state meet. She has another goal for her senior year, one that would advance her desire to compete in college.
“My goal is 6 feet. It’s something that I want to do in high school mainly scholarship-wise because that would really help,” she said.
In winning the high jump, Faucett earned 10 points for her team. Junior Alexis Law accounted for Pleasant Valley’s other two points in the indoor meet. Her throw of 26 feet, 3 inches in the shot was good for seventh place.
In the boys’ competition, Pleasant Valley earned 10 points – all from relays. The 4x200-meters team of Reagan King, Austin Lee, Connor Wolfe and Nicholas Stewart was fifth for four points. The 4x400 team – Stewart, John Anthony Kritlow, Wolfe and Lee finished sixth for three points. The 4x800 team of Jacob Gladen, Kritlow, Skyler McLeod and Daniel Gladen also finished sixth and earned three points.