Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Leader sports editor

The stage was set, and though the location seemed unlikely for such a big event, the 50 or so spectators knew the magnitude of what was being attempted. A New York Times sportswriter had come all the way to tiny Black Springs (Montgomery County), with its population of 114, to cover the USATF Arkansas state indoor meet at the Morry Sanders Pole Vault Complex. Lexi and Tori Weeks, twin seniors at Cabot High School, were trying for the fourth time to break the national girls’ prep pole vault record.

Both sisters entered the meet with a personal best of 14-feet, 0 1/2 inch. Tori entered Saturday’s competition having just overcome a 103-temperature illness and the energy wasn’t there. Lexi was fresh and confident. After gliding over a 13-foot, 9-inch bar, it went up to 14-3 ¼. That’s one half inch higher than the national record going into the competition. It’s now the new national record.

Lexi failed on her first attempt. She scraped the bar on her second try. Her back splashed into the landing pit. The bar stayed up. She burst into tears. Tori was the first person to the pit to share the moment.

“I was just so relieved,” said Lexi Weeks. “I had tried for that height, this was my fourth meet since January, and it was my last chance until late this summer because outdoor is about to start. I thought I had the first one even though I hit the bar. The second one I hit with my thigh and my waist a little bit. Actually I thought I hit it pretty good, so when I hit the mat I looked up and saw that it stayed up there. The emotions just flooded me at that moment.”

Lexi and Tori will continue to go to Black Springs once a week for practice, working towards their goal of 15 feet by the end of the outdoor season before reporting to the University of Arkansas in the fall.

“First I want to break Desiree’s (Freier) outdoor record of 14-7, and then go for 15,” Lexi Weeks said. “I’m still a long way from that, but I think if I just stay focused and keep working hard on it, I can reach that. I’m extremely competitive and there’s a number there to beat. So I’m going to start with that and go from there.”

Cabot fans have several opportunities to see the local stars this outdoor season. It begins March 12 at Searcy. There is a meet in Bryant on March 19 and the Cabot Walmart Invitational is on March 31.

There are other meets nearby after those, and beyond that, and national records might fall in any of them. Beyond that, the entire Lady Panther track team has a chance to be very successful.