Notre Dame’s Horvath wins MOC pole vault title by setting meet, state records

By Rich Fisher | Correspondent

EYES ON THE PRIZE • Haley Horvath, senior in Notre Dame High School, Lawrenceville, gears up for a winning pole vault at the NJSIAA’s Outdoor Meet of Champions June 9. Photo courtesy of Kyle Franko/The Trentonian

Haley Horvath did it again.

With an exclamation point.

After winning the indoor pole vault championship at the NJSIAA Indoor Meet of Champions in February, the Notre Dame High senior won the outdoor MOC title June 9 at Northern Burlington High School in Columbus.

Horvath’s vault of 13-feet, 5-1/4 inches not only shattered the Meet of Champions mark of 12-6, previously held by four different girls, but it broke the state record of 13-3, previously held by Shawnee’s Danielle O’Reilly.

“She just does this every time out,” Irish coach Joe McLaughlin said. “Nothing fazes her, and she just keeps getting better.”

The Princeton resident clinched first place when she went 13 feet on her first attempt. She set the bar at 13-3-1/4 after that in order to try and break the record, and cleared it on her second attempt. Horvath then made the record a little tougher to break by clearing 13-5-1/4 on her first attempt. She finally missed after two strong attempts at 13-7-1/2.

After clearing 13-feet at the June 1-2 Non-Public A meet, Horvath was confident she could win the outdoor title and set a record.

“I knew it was gonna be hard, all the girls are really good,” she said. “I knew I was gonna have to do pretty well in order to win. The week before was the first time I jumped 13, so that definitely gave me a lot of confidence to help me do so well.”

McLaughlin noted that Horvath came close to 13-6 June 1-2 at the groups, so he also felt she had a shot at history.

“Once it got warm out, she just kept getting better,” McLaughlin said. “The whole beginning of the spring season had been horrible. It was windy; it was raining. At dual meets, when all the other girls would get out, she would come in, clear a [winning] height and be done. She’d take one attempt and go home. She was doing all her main stuff at the clinic.”

McLaughlin was referring to the Philadelphia Jumps Club in Conshohocken, Pa., where Horvath began going the summer after her sophomore year. It helped immeasurably as she set the Mercer County and Mercer County Indoor meet records of 12-4 in January before hitting 12-6 to tie the state indoor record four months ago.

The coach noted that at the outdoor MOC, four girls hit the former record of 12-6, showing how much better girls pole vaulting has gotten in the state. And Horvath is helping lead the way.

“The best thing about her is she stays so calm and cool, nothing frazzles her,” McLaughlin said. “She just doesn’t change anything. You see so many girls go over 11-6, and they’ll clear it by a foot. You put the bar to 12 and then they panic. When you raise the bar with Haley, she doesn’t panic; she’s still getting up there.”

“I don’t really think about anything; I pretty much empty my mind and let it happen,” Horvath said. “Most of the time I’ll be singing in my head. This time it was a country song, but I’m not sure what one.”

The Towson University-bound senior said she learned what the state record was last week after she cleared 13. McLaughlin told her she had a shot at the record.

Haley felt having that knowledge helped this week.

“When it was 13-3 we set it at 13-3-1/4 so I could try and break the record,” she said. “I liked knowing what it was, it pushes me a little harder. If it was 12, I wouldn’t have pushed myself as hard.”

Asked if she knew she had a quality vault when she planted the pole, Horvath said, “No, I can’t tell until I’m inverted on the pole. But it’s a nice feeling when you know it.”

Horvath will next head to the New Balance Nationals in Charlotte, N.C. Her goal is to hit “something around 13-9” although at nationals they measure in meters.

And while she’s away, she will continue to turn to God.

“I say a prayer before bed every night,” she said. “And before our meets, our team will pray together. I think it kind of calms everyone down.”

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