At Garces High School you can't talk about the track and field team without mentioning Julianne Finch. "She's a hurdler, she can run the 100, she leads off our 4 X 100," said head coach Jesse Pena. "Just about anything you ask her to do she's willing to get out and do it."
But where Julianne soars is in the sport where she's literally throwing herself in the air.
"She has a lot of great characteristics of a vaulter," said Rams' pole vaulting coach Konstantin Zagustin. "She's fearless. You tell her to take that pole and run down that runway and she'll do it."
Finch has been a part of the Rams' vaulting team for the last four years but has improved this year thanks to a different approach. "When I did gymnastics I was always the power person," said Finch. "I had to learn a lot of technique."
Coach Zagustin, who's worked with top vaulters in South America and Western Europe, has been helping her this year with that form. But it was Finch's unique off season workouts that are helping her jump higher than ever.
"I started getting up at 5:00 A.M to meet the football team for their morning workouts," she recalled. She was the only girl at those morning workouts and went on to be the team's water girl where she said she became a part of the team.
All that training and new found knowledge from Coach Zagustin has combined to give her a new personal best; 12 feet. Schools have suddenly taken notice. After careful thought between Fresno State and CSU Bakersfield, Thursday Finch signed to play track for the Runners next year.
Coach Pena thinks while her pole vaulting career is getting ready to take off, she still has work to do in high school. "I'd like to see her get a 12.6 and if she gets to state maybe go 13," he said. "I mean it's within her reach. Her work ethic--it's all there."
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