Merritt Van Meter, Met Park Country Day LA, is US#1 and US#8 All-Time in the vault with a 13-8.25. But there is more to this Bayou girl than just the vault. Read on to learn more about Merritt below...
MileSplit.us: US#8 All-Time in the pole vault at 13-8.25 and a state championship. What does the state title mean to you? What does a height like that mean to you?
Merritt Van Meter: I went through a big transition in my vaulting just before state meet, and I am so happy that I was able to demonstrate and test out my new technique and knowledge at the time of that meet. It was a great swansong to my high school career with Country Day School! I generally do not have a specific height in mind when I go into a competition, just some understanding of the level of satisfaction I want coming out. I knew going into state meet that I wanted to go after the national season record, and I was thrilled when I snatched it. But it was very important to me that I kept my focus and had a few great attempts at 14ft as well! I was very satisfied with the 13-8 jump and very proud of the performances of my teammates.
MileSplit.us: You've been over 13' five times this season. Any national level meets in your schedule to go after more heights?
Merritt Van Meter: I will be competing in Albuquerque on the 5th for the Great Southwest Classic, North Carolina on the 18thfor New Balance Nationals, and Iowa on the 24thfor Junior Nationals!
MileSplit.us: Looking back on high school, what were some of your fondest memories of track and field? Fondest memories of high school life?
Merritt Van Meter: My school’s varsity track team this year pulled up six 8th graders to run for us after beginning the season with only three girls. The girls and I really got to know each other and I had an amazing time working with them and teaching them what it means to run for a team and always leave everything on the track! We were very determined to win the regional meet and I competed in the pole vault, long jump, javelin, and the 200 meter dash to get as many points as possible. My teammate Lane Porter, tore up the track running distance and hurdles, and the girls pulled through an amazing 4x400 to steal the win! This was my first time really having a team spirit and taking home a team victory in track and field, and the girls will always be in my mind as I head off to join my college team. I know that Lane will be a great caption next year in leading our young and talented team of girls!
MileSplit.us: What type of workouts and training do you do to prepare for the vault? How does this compare to what you will see in college?
Merritt Van Meter: My training partners and I have a schedule of speed workouts, sprint conditioning, high bar workouts, and even “pool” vaulting which is pole vaulting under water. Our coach Doug Fraley has developed an outstanding vault training program over the last years and it definitely seems to have transitioned well into college training for my teammates.
MileSplit.us: Do you have a favorite workout that you enjoy? Why this workout?
Merritt Van Meter: I absolutely love to pool vault. Being underwater allows you to slow down the entire top half of your jump and really get the feeling of hitting every position. On top of the training aspect, it takes two of my favorite things; swimming and vaulting, and pulls them into one!
MileSplit.us: What do you like to do with your time when you aren't competing or practicing? Hobbies? Activities with friends?
Merritt Van Meter: It is almost impossible to get me to stay inside! Doug and I go fishing a lot and I love running around the Louisiana bayous where I’ve grown up. My best friends Alexis and Abigail are always supportive of my vaulting, and are the greatest balance to focusing on my training while still taking the time to be 18. I also like to ride horses and help out at the animal shelters. I have even started shadowing a surgeon at the veterinary hospital in my town. I hope to make a career out of my passion for working with animals after I chase down my vault dreams!
MileSplit.us: What role models do you have in T&F? Why?
Merritt Van Meter: My father was Native American and he gave me a book about Jim Thorpe when I was little. His story has always inspired me more than any other, and I am very proud of the heritage and track dreams that we share. I hope to one day have as much success as he had. In the vault scene I look up to Stacy Dragila! In addition to being my idol as the greatest pioneer of women’s vaulting, Stacy has always been very kind to me and demonstrated amazing character. When I run into younger girls at meets who look up to me I always try to be the friend that Stacy has been to me.
MileSplit.us: Who do you look up to outside of T&F? Why?
Merritt Van Meter: That’s easy, my Mama! For every reason that a girl could possibly have to look up to a parent. Aside from being my personal super hero, she is the greatest woman I have ever met, and I cherish the privilege of being her daughter and the baby sister of my amazing sister, Logan Jade (who is probably going to save the world.) I also look up to my big brother, Cliff Jr., his determination and work ethic is beyond admirable.
MileSplit.us: Where do you see yourself long-term in the vault… beyond high school and college?
Merritt Van Meter: I have very big dreams in vault! I definitely plan to pursue a professional career. But for now I focus on the intermediate goals that will get me there.
MileSplit.us: How excited are you to be joining the Tar Heels next year? What is most exciting about college life? What will be the biggest change?
Merritt Van Meter: I am thrilled to be going to Carolina. I am most excited about the amazing coaches and teammates that I will have next year. My UNC vault team has already been a great support to me through this season, and I know that it will be incredible experience training with all of them and Coach Langley. The best way to describe our team is a family, and I can’t wait to take my position under Coach Craddock. The hardest change will be leaving Doug, my mom, my four dogs, and Louisiana cooking.