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Lambuth vaults to new heights

Placer grad sets Air Force Academy records
By: Ray Hacke Journal Correspondent
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Tawny Lambuth spent last summer leaping out of airplanes while earning her wings in the Air Force’s jump and combat survival training program. “It was scary, but it was really fun,” the Placer High graduate said. “Once I jumped, it was an amazing experience – all the fear was gone.” It would seem, then, that using a pole to launch herself over a bar that’s not even 15 feet off the ground – something Lambuth has done since high school – would be far less terrifying by comparison. Still, Lambuth found it nerve-wracking when she switched from a 13-foot pole to a 13-7 pole while competing in the pole vault for the U.S. Air Force Academy’s women’s track and field squad. A mere 7 inches makes a lot of difference when it comes to how high off the ground a pole vaulter perceives herself to be – especially when she is upside down. “To compare it to a building, you’re talking about jumping with something that’s almost two stories high,” Air Force assistant coach Scott Steffan said. As she did while hurling herself out of airplanes thousands of feet off the ground, however, Lambuth conquered her fear. Doing so enabled the junior to place fifth at February’s Mountain West Conference Indoor Championships in Albuquerque, N.M. Lambuth’s vault of 12 ft. and 10¼ inches was not only a personal best, it tied the third-best indoor mark in Air Force Academy history. Her fifth-place finish was also the highest by a Falcons pole vaulter at the MWC indoor meet. “She struggled a lot with her confidence for her first year and a half,” Steffan said. “But she’s starting to trust what she does.” “Once you get used to (the longer pole), it becomes pretty natural,” Lambuth said. “You get over your fear and start working on improving your jump.” Steffan believes Lambuth can go even higher during the outdoor track and field season, which starts this week. That’s with the added challenges that the weather provides, such as slippery tracks and strong winds. “I think she can go 13 feet plus,” Steffan said. Steffan bases that assessment on Lambuth’s speed, improved strength and gymnastics background. Lambuth competed for Auburn Gymnastics Academy in Auburn before taking up the pole vault at Placer High. Lambuth builds up her speed for the pole vault in part by running in sprint events for Air Force. Her 7.88-second clocking in the 60-meter dash – an indoor-only event – earlier this season was the eighth-fastest in school history. Lambuth also has the Falcons’ 10th-fastest time in the 60’s outdoor equivalent, the 100, at 12.48. Lambuth has also been part of two 4x100 relay teams that rank among the Falcons’ five best ever. Last year she ran the third leg for the foursome that posted the second-fastest time in school history. In the classroom, Lambuth is majoring in humanities, which actually combines parts of five majors – English, fine arts, foreign languages (her emphasis is French), history, and philosophy. She eventually hopes to become a manager of military facilities. For now, however, Lambuth is focused on making Steffan’s prediction – that she’ll clear 13 feet – come true. “I really hope to clear it, and I’m working hard to get it,” she said. “That’s a major goal for the season.” ______________________________________________________ UP CLOSE WITH LAMBUTH Graduated from: Placer High (2008) Currently attending: U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo. Year: Junior Sport: Track and field Events: Pole vault, sprints Height: 5-foot-5 Major: Humanities Notable: Placed fifth in the pole vault at the Mountain West Conference Indoor Championships in February, clearing the bar at a personal-best 12 feet, 10¼ inches; is now tied for third highest indoor vault in Air Force history; also ranks among the Falcons’ top 10 in the indoor 60-meter dash (eighth, 7.88 seconds) and the outdoor 100-meter dash (10th, 12.48) and was part of the school’s second-fastest 4x100 relay team.