Blind pole vaulter soars into state meet

Sixteen-year-old Charlotte Brown talks about overcoming challenges and finding success at pole vaulting despite being legally blind.

Using a new, more flexible pole but with the same determination she has shown throughout her high school track and field career, Charlotte Brown advanced Friday to the Texas Class 3A state meet in the pole vault.

Brown, who is blind and uses beeper devices to aid her in the pole vault and in her running events, finished second at the regional meet at Texas A&M-Commerce with a vault of 11 feet, 3 inches. Neither Brown nor the first-place finisher was able to clear 11-6, but Brown had more previous misses.

"It's all about staying alive for the next meet," Rains coach Jeff Lester said. "You just have to advance."

The junior from Rains High in Emory, Texas, has jumped 12-6 in practice this year after finishing eighth in the state meet last year with a final jump of 10-6. But Brown, who was considered legally blind as a sophomore, has had her vision deteriorate since then and now can only discern light and dark.

"There are a lot of things to admire about Charlotte," Lester said, "but the most important thing is her teammates love her. Yeah, she has had a lot to overcome and a lot of obstacles, but she puts her teammates above herself, and that's the stuff I'm very impressed with."

The Texas state meet is May 9-10 at Mike A. Myers Stadium on the campus of the University of Texas in Austin.

"We're right on track for where we need to be," Lester said. "I'm very, very happy. It was a great day."

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