Chelsea Vaughan found herself in a familiar position at the NJSIAA Meet of Champions.
The Southern Regional senior was down to her third and final attempt to win the pole vault, the same situation she faced at this year’s indoor MOC.
And just as she did to win the indoor pole vault title, Vaughan came through in a big-pressure moment by clearing 12-0 on her final attempt to claim her first outdoor pole vault championship.
“I was the last person and it was my last jump,” Vaughan said. “I had one attempt left and I knew if I made it then I won, and if I didn’t we would have a jump-off, and I just knew I had to make it.”
“That pretty much sums her up,” Southern Regional girls track and field coach Brian Zatorski said. “She’s a fierce competitor.”
Vaughan won the outdoor MOC at Lombardi Field in Old Bridge after finishing second as a junior last year. She was tied with Hillsborough sophomore Marlena Sabatino at 11-6, but after Sabatino failed to clear three times at 12-0, Vaughan made the height on her final attempt to win the gold medal.
“Everyone had a really, really bad day,” Vaughan said. “I knew I could clear 12 feet. I can clear 12 feet with my eyes closed, so I was disappointed I couldn’t clear on my first two attempts, and then third attempt I got it.”
Vaughan’s MOC victory capped an undefeated season in New Jersey. Along the way, Vaughan set meet records in the Group IV (12-6) and South Group IV (12-3) meets as well as the Shore Conference Championships (12-0). She also won the Ocean County pole vault at 11-0 and took fourth at the Penn Relays (12-1.5).
At times, Vaughan’s dominance left her with little competition until she squared off against Sabatino at Group IV and the Meet of Champions. For Vaughan, who will attend the University of Cincinnati, not having a rival to push her for much of the season wasn’t easy.
“It was exciting setting the records but at the same time I was striving to go to college because I want competition,” Vaughan said. “Last year I always had someone to chase. Dana Schweiger of Toms River North was my biggest competitor, and last year meet after meet she beat me, and finally at the end I was able to catch her. And then this year I had no one to catch.
“It was frustrating at the dual meets, I would come in at 10-6 and no one was left. Even at sectionals I came in and it was just me.”
Zatorski, though, said he saw a renewed dedication and focus from Vaughan after she suffered a mild hamstring injury in March.
“That seemed to energize her a little bit,” Zatorski said.