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Athlete of the Week: Ledford's Brooke Shelton

Ledford's Brooke Shelton is The Dispatch Athlete of the Week. (Photo by Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch)

Brooke Shelton likes to be in control of her own destiny.

She was in complete control Saturday at the 3-A state championship track meet. The Ledford senior cleared 11 feet, six inches to win the state title in the pole vault.

Looking down the runway, preparing to take off, Shelton was right where she wanted to be. “Actually, I was in gymnastics for a long time,” she explained. “But it was too time-consuming.

“So I tried to start playing basketball and some different team sports, but I just didn’t like it because I didn’t have the power to win or lose.”

If she was going to participate in sports, she decided, it had to be an individual sport. She simply couldn’t stand not having complete control of her outcome.

“My dad told me to try pole vaulting, that he heard it had a lot to do with gymnastics,” she said. “So I tried it, and I loved it.”

Shawn Loggins coaches Shelton at Ledford, and she also credits Van Hall and Eric Morelle with helping her nail down the technique that has made her so special. She has come so far, in fact, that she will continue to vault at Liberty University next year. She received a partial scholarship to Liberty, and her performance during her time there could translate into more financial help.

Shelton has proven she’s willing to put the work in to continue to improve. She finished in the top four in the state last year, but vaulted to new heights this season thanks to continuous hard work. “I trained with running, I lifted weights,” she said. “I ran a lot more, trying to get my speed and strength up.

“And then I just jumped, year-round, and practiced a lot more.”

Heading into Saturday’s meet, Shelton knew she had a legitimate shot to bring home a state title. But standing there, all by herself, at the end of the runway, the pressure was impossible to avoid. “I knew I was gonna be up close to the top,” she said. “It makes you kind of overthink stuff.

“But I always think about just jumping my best. And if I mess up, it’s just one meet out of many more that I’ll have.”

And, if she messes up, there’s no one to blame but herself. “I like doing sports that either I win or lose, it’s up to me,” she said. “If I lose, it just makes me work harder, to be better the next time.”

This time, there was no one better. And Shelton has the state championship to prove it.

Jason Queen can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 220 or