Chloë Woest has lived in the United States more than a decade, but it wasn’t until March that she officially called it home, as that was when her family became citizens.
“It was really exciting. It’s just a really emotional process,” said Woest, who was born in South Africa. “For my dad it’s really been like a 25-year process from the years before he moved to the United States. It was just a huge relief, honestly. It’s really cool to say we live here and belong here.”
The Woest’s moved from South Africa when Chloe was 5. There was a six-year wait for green cards and then five more years until they could apply for citizenship.
Because of unrest back home, Woest hasn’t been back. Her grandparents still live in South Africa and occasionally visit, but she has no other family in the U.S.
Woest is thriving in her new home. She’s a star on Fossil Ridge High School’s track and field team and has signed to compete at the University of Idaho.
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On Thursday, the first of three days of the state track meet, she’ll compete in her marquee event in the pole vault.
Woest is ranked first in Class 5A with a school-record mark of 12-feet, 2-inches. She took second in the event last year.
Not bad considering she never planned to pole vault. Woest is a lifelong gymnast. When she came out for track as a freshman, she planned to just run hurdles.
However, she was convinced her gymnastics background would play well with pole vault.
Her coaching in the beginning was simple: “I don’t care how you do it, just get yourself over that bar. Just get used to having it in your hands,” her coach told her.
Woest says it wasn’t until late in her freshman season that she even started bending the pole, but she still was good enough to be the only freshman in 5A to compete in pole vault at state, where she finished 13th.
“It was kind of similar to gymnastics because I was missing it (gymnastics),” Woest said. “It was cool to be able to translate that into vault.”
She’s ready for a busy week. In addition to pole vault on Thursday, she’s seeded fifth in long jump which also runs Thursday morning. She’ll also compete in 100-meter hurdles, plus Fossil Ridge’s graduation is Saturday.
If things go as she hopes, the weekend will be the perfect end to a whirlwind spring.
Follow sports reporter Kevin Lytle at twitter.com/Kevin_Lytle and at facebook.com/KevinSLytle.