DEKALB – After each one of her vaults, Lauren Zuidema came up with a big smile on her face.
The Sterling senior had good reason to smile, as she turned in a record-setting performance at the Northern Illinois Big 12 meet on Friday in DeKalb.
Zuidema won the pole vault by clearing 10 feet, 6 inches, eclipsing the mark of 10-3 set a year ago by Geneseo's Darrian Hartman. She was unaware what the record was entering the day.
"It was kind of a surprise," Zuidema said.
Zuidema, who has a personal best of 10-9 this season, didn't enter the competition until the bar was set at 8-9. She cleared that height, along with 9-3 and 9-9, on her first attempts.
By that time, she was the lone vaulter left, as Kaneland's Christina Delach went out after clearing 9-3.
Sterling coach Tyler Gaumer then had a brief chat with Zuidema, and they decided to set the bar at 10-6, 3 inches clear of Hartman's mark.
Zuidema missed on her first attempt at that height, but made the next one with ease, drawing a lot of oohs and aahs from a small crowd gathered to watch the event.
"It was really nice to get that height again, because I like to be consistent," Zuidema said. "It's nice to know I can make it on a regular basis."
Gaumer and Zuidema then decided to go for the gold – in this case, the Sterling record of 11-3 set by Tori Gaumer at the 2001 state meet. Tori Gaumer is the younger sister of Tyler Gaumer.
The bar was set at 11-4, and Zuidema got on top of it on her first and third attempts, but was unable to finish it off successfully. The first try was especially close, but she tipped the bar with her legs after her torso was past it.
"It's really encouraging that now I'm over the top of it," Zuidema said. "I can make it, but I just have to put a full vault together and make sure I have everything right."
Coach Gaumer was pleased with his vaulter's effort technique-wise, and noted now it's a mental thing as far as reaching new heights.
"It's really about her believing she can make 11-4," Gaumer said. "I believe she can make 11-4. Mom and dad believe she can make 11-4. Everybody that saw that first attempt believes she can make 11-4. If she just gets herself in the right frame of mind, she'll make it."
The Golden Warriors also received a solid performance from Ivy Peterson, who cleared a personal-best 8-9 to take third place. She added 3 inches to her previous best.
"I feel better, I feel like I can get on top of it more," Peterson said, "and I think I can do a lot better."
All of the field events, with the exception of the discus, were held in the fieldhouse adjacent to the DeKalb High School track. Inclement weather earlier in the day necessitated the change.