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Girls track and field: Peak to Peak’s Rathke named athlete of the year

Versatility in jumping events leads sophomore to honor

BOULDER, CO - JUNE 9:Peak to Peak Charter School's Kourtney Rathke poses for a portrait at an Above the Bar Pole Vaulting training location in Boulder on Thursday, June 9, 2022. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)
BOULDER, CO – JUNE 9:Peak to Peak Charter School’s Kourtney Rathke poses for a portrait at an Above the Bar Pole Vaulting training location in Boulder on Thursday, June 9, 2022. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

A snow-delayed state track and field meet didn’t seem to faze Kourtney Rathke too much. Not when she attempted her Class 3A state meet record-breaking vault of 12 feet, 11 inches after 11 p.m. on a chilly Saturday night, and not when she had to return less than 11 hours later to claim the silver in the 100-meter hurdles event.

The Peak to Peak sophomore completed both with ease, then came back to the field several hours later to take home her second gold medal of the meet with an 18-foot, 5-inch leap in the long jump. Just a few days earlier, she earned third place in the triple jump after hopping 37–3.25.

Rathke’s impressive results have earned her girls track and field athlete of the year, but the young track star is far from done. She’s all business when it comes to live competition.

“I don’t go out there to win every day,” she explained. “I just go out there to try and jump PRs and work on new things.”

As any common spectator could have guessed, her run toward two state titles began with pole vault in middle school and she has only grown her love for the sport since. Her mother Anne Lee, who competed for Stanford in the early 90s, helped nurture that love early on and watched it blossom into something greater.

“I was mostly a triple jumper at Stanford. And then I also dabbled in the long jump and 100-meter hurdles, which is fun, because those are the three events that she does now,” Lee said. “When I first started college, there wasn’t women’s pole vaulting at all, so I love how my daughter now, today, can pole vault, whereas I didn’t really have the opportunity to do that.”

It certainly doesn’t hurt that Rathke hails from perhaps the best pole vault area in the entire state, thanks in large part to the Above the Bar track club in Boulder.

Boulder County and Broomfield County alone produced three girls pole vault champions in Rathke, Broomfield’s Lilly Nichols (5A) and Silver Creek’s Megan Kelleghan (4A) as well as high marks from Fairview’s Olivia Kosanovich (second place), Legacy’s Victoria Spitzley (third), Fairview’s Sophie Pierce (fourth), Fairview’s Charlotte Elliston (fifth) and Monarch’s McKenna Selby (sixth) in the 5A competition alone.

Many train together at Above the Bar and the results speak for themselves.

“We all just support each other, always pulling each other up, Rathke said. “ And it’s never really a competition between us. It’s always a competition with yourself. But just being around people that are doing good makes you do good as well because it’s just such a positive environment and it’s just always fun to compete with them.”

When Rathke began dabbling with long jump, triple jump and hurdles in high school track and field, she admitted the transition wasn’t always smooth. Her strength from perhaps the toughest field sport still prepared her well.

She finished her 2022 season ranked third in pole vault (13–1), sixth in long jump (18–6) and eighth in triple jump (37–3.25) among all classifications in Colorado.

“Pole vaulters are overall athletes,” Rathke said. “Even (ATB coach Pat Manson) says that any pole vaulter, they can do any other sport, and they won’t be like professionals at it but they can find their way around. I think that’s what I did for long intervals. I just kind of tried them. And even if it wasn’t perfect, or my technique wasn’t perfect, I think the overall athleticism you get from pole vault kind of just carries through into other events.”