Raising the bar to a higher level… Happy Valley’s Newsome taking track and pole vaulting skills to Milligan

Published 8:25 am Friday, April 26, 2019

If one is rewarded by the amount of time and work they put into their craft or sport, then Happy Valley senior track and field standout Natalie Newsome is well deserving of the offer she received from Milligan College to continue her career close to home.

Wednesday afternoon in the school library, Newsome finalized the last piece of her senior career before state competition by putting her name on the dotted line to become a Buff track and field athlete after graduation.

She was joined by her family, friends, and administration for her big day.

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What Newsome has accomplished in her high school career has been amazing to say the least as the Lady Warrior brought home a state runner-up medallion last year and is ranked as the No. 1 pole vaulter on the girls’ side in the state currently having cleared 9’6” to date.

Newsome’s tenacity is what sets the Happy Valley athlete aside from all others according to her coach.

“I cannot say it enough about what she has brought to our track program over the last four years– it’s immeasurable,” said Warrior track and field coach Matt Estep. “She is one of the best athletes that I have ever coached male or female. Anything you put her in she can do it.

“She holds multiple school records and is a state runner-up. She has one of the hardest work ethics that I have ever seen and she is a great role model for the rest of the athletes on the team.

“She has been great as a team captain her senior year,” continued Estep. “Nobody outworks her. She could have rested on her laurels last year. She was a state runner-up and has had a relatively easy road this season and didn’t have to work too hard to be No. 1 in state pole vault right now.

“She is still trying to get better. She is still moving up to different poles.”

There are other areas that are not just on the track or at the pole vault that Newsome excels according to Estep. Anything that Newsome has touched seems to turn to gold for the gifted athlete.

“It’s not just track and field—its everything that she does,” Estep stated. “She is an All-Conference volleyball player and was an All-American cheerleader and her cheer coaches can’t say enough good things about her.

“Milligan is getting a fantastic athlete but also getting an even better person.”

The Lady Warrior can end her career at Happy Valley not only shining from an individual standpoint but also as part of a team race.

“She is seeded No. 1 in the state in the pole vault and she is seeded to go in 300M hurdles and is part of our 4x200M team that should make it to state,” added Estep. “She does everything you need her to do.

“Her PR is 9’6”. We got her a new pole today so the sky is the limit. She is trying to get as high as she can get.”

Meanwhile, Newsome said Wednesday was a day that was marked on her calendar from the very first day she began participating in track and field.

“I have been super excited all day,” said Newsome with some nerves showing. “I have been looking forward to this day since I was a freshman.

“I didn’t know where I would be signing and I couldn’t be happier with the choice I decided to make. I can’t wait to go to Milligan next year and run for them.”

Newsome said that Milligan wasn’t on her radar until she paid a visit to the school and became hooked.

“I wasn’t planning on going to Milligan then I went on a visit and I kind of looked into it a little more,” Newsome stated. “The coaches were super nice and friendly and so was the rest of the staff.

“I knew I had made the right choice when I got into a group of recruits and everyone was super friendly and that’s when I knew where I was going to go.”

Although excited for the next phase in life, Newsome said she would be taking a treasure chest worth of memories with her just down the road from her current school.

“Probably the biggest memory was getting the state runner-up,” Newsome added. “That was really huge and hopefully getting the state championship will be a memory I take up there.

“I will remember all the hard work I spent for hours over the summer to get where I am. My freshman year I got taken out of the event—I was horrible and I worked my way up and I am going to remember that and I will carry that ethic throughout college.

“I would definitely like to go to the national championship up there and place high,” continued Newsome. “I don’t want to make too big of goals yet until I know what I am looking at but hopefully I can go to the national championship there.”

Newsome was quick to admit that the first time she picked up a pole, she was like a fish out of water not knowing precisely what she had gotten herself into.

However, her determination wasn’t squashed by her initial outcome and now she is reaping the rewards of her dedication.

“Well, I think at first it was just because we needed points and that was why I got back into it,” Newsome said with a sheepish grin. “I have that kind of work ethic that I don’t want to be bad at anything and I always want to push and the best at anything that I do.

“When I realized I could make it to state I was like I am going to go to state. He (Coach Estep) told me when we were all going that I had to have the mindset that we are here to win. So, in my head, I went in thinking I am here to win.

“I was close to winning,” Newsome continued. “I didn’t get beat on height—I got beat on a jump off which is where she cleared the bar one more time than I did.

“I was very close to winning but I wasn’t even seeded to go to state and I ended up making it. So, I definitely proved people wrong and I like to have that aspect of proving people wrong. I even do that in meets today even though now I am expected to seed very well. I always place higher than I am seeded.”

In training to get back to the state competition, Newsome knows that you can’t look to the next bar until you clear the one you are currently trying to get over.

“Normally I just go into it one bar at a time—this is just another bar and I can get over this,” said Newsome. “I have cleared it before and I know what I am doing.

“This year it is a little more nerve-racking because everyone is like you are going to win this year, you are going to win state and I am like you are right.

“I am here to do my best and I am here to win and that’s what I am going to do. I know I can do it. I am pretty confident about it,” Newsome continued. “ I was shooting for 10’ but I think that I am going to get that at my next meet coming up because I am moving up to a taller pole. “By the end of the season, I would like to clear 11’6 to 12’ at least.”

Although Happy Valley has been good to Newsome, she said as an athlete that a small school could sometimes put one at a disadvantage.

“I think coming from a smaller school kind of has a disadvantage actually,” said Newsome. “Having Coach Estep makes it more of an advantage but coming from a small school you don’t have a lot of funds or resources and that makes it very difficult because our equipment isn’t very good and I have just got to a point where I have found a resource to borrow longer poles for my weight limit. It has actually been a difficult time to try and do that.”