Athlete of Week: Barbosa reaching record heights

North Myrtle Beach senior Emily Barbosa is literally raising the bar in the pole vault event for the Lady Chiefs track and field team. Her rapid rise over the crossbar saw her shatter the school record with a vault of 9 feet, 6 inches and land the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week honors.

“That was a goal of mine but I really didn’t expect to break the record the day I did,” confessed Barbosa. “The first time I ever jumped 9 feet was the week before and that was amazing. At the beginning of last year my best jump ever was only 7 feet, but I have been working hard at it since.”

The hard work is paying off. Although Barbosa has been a member of the varsity team since the seventh grade, her primary role was running. She continues to run the 400 and 800 meters, as well as the 4×400 and the 4×800 relays. But for the past two years her focus has been on the pole vault.

“It kind of makes sense because when I was a kid I was always outdoors, running around, climbing trees, playing hide and seek,” Barbosa recalled. “In elementary school I was always racing other kids at recess. I was like that all the way through middle school when I could join the track team.

“I still love running, but the pole vault is the hardest thing I’ve ever tried in my life, and I’ve tried a lot of things. There are so many levels to it – how to run, how to plant the pole, how to land. It’s one of those things you never perfect. There’s always something you can do to improve.”

Barbosa’s improvement has been marked, and she hopes it will land her in contention for a state title in May. Last year at the state meet, her chance to advance in the pole vault was cut short when she had to leave during the finals in order to join her teammates for the relay events.

“I made 8 feet and they were raising the bar to 8-6 in the next round. I really wanted to give it a shot but I had to run in a relay and they couldn’t wait for me to get back,” she said. “Most of the girls who do the pole vault only do the pole vault. I was the only one that had to leave.”

Barbosa, who also serves as student body president at North Myrtle Beach, hopes to take an other crack at it this season and close out her stellar high school career with a state title. But she also has her eyes farther down the track after signing a track and field scholarship at North Greenville earlier this month. With her energy and passion for the sport, the sky is the limit for Barbosa.

Photo courtesy of NMBHS Athletics

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