LAKEWOOD — Considering everything Abba Gray has had to deal with over the past year, a little rain delay was no big deal.
One year after missing the state meet with two ankle injuries, the Silver Creek senior claimed the Class 4A championship in the girls pole vault on Saturday at Jefferson County Stadium.
“It feels really good,” said Gray, who vaulted 11 feet, 6 inches to take the title. “It’s been a long time coming and, honestly, I just came out here and the weather wasn’t too great and my ankle didn’t feel too good, but I was like, ‘You know what, as long as I have a fun day, we’ll see what happens.’
“I’m glad I could come away with a first-place title.”
Morning rain and wind forced all the pole vault competitions to be delayed. Originally slated to start at 1:30 p.m., the 4A girls competition didn’t start until 4 p.m.
“I just had to overcome that and give it my all and not let the little factors play into how I competed,” Gray said.
As far as she was concerned, simply competing was a blessing.
Gray, who will compete next year at Azusa Pacific University, had the look of a future state champion as far back as her freshman year, in 2015, when she placed seventh. She was fifth as a sophomore.
Last year, however, she partially tore two ligaments in her left ankle. Shortly after that, she got a stress fracture in her right ankle.
“I was out with two boots on, doing rehab,” she said. “That’s been a big mental challenge, so coming back from that, it’s awesome to be able to vault again.”
Gray went through months of rehab and said, “It wasn’t until the very beginning of this year that I started to fully be able to run and train.”
She never lost sight of her goal, however, and had put together an impressive season that included a personal-best vault of 12-4.
“I knew if I just stuck with it and did all I could and worked out and trained what I could while I was in the boots (it would work out),” she said, “but I also mentally prepared myself to deal with whatever I had to deal with.”
Ultimately, all Gray had to deal with on Saturday was a little bit of rain and chilly weather and some tough competition that included Valor Christian’s Avery Vieregger and Pueblo West’s Grace Braune, who both vaulted 11-0 and pushed Gray.
As she’s done for the past year, however, Gray got through it and finally claimed the championship she has chased for four years.
“It does feel good, because I know no matter what happens, if I just put in all the effort and give it my best, I can come out with the state championship, which is pretty awesome,” she said. “So, I’m excited, and I’ll walk away today very, very happy.”