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PIAA gold medal, meet record a fairy tale ending for Solanco’s Katie Urbine | High School Track and Field

SHIPPENSBURG — There were no guarantees at the end of those 75-minute trips toward Philadelphia each week. There was a mom’s intuition and a dream.

Diana Urbine believed her daughter, Katie, could excel at the pole vault. It was an educated guess really. Katie was a gymnast for 14 years and the fastest sprinter in her middle school. All the tools were there.

Once the pole was placed in her hands, the results were … not so great.

“It was rough,” said Brian Mondschein, co-owner of Philly Jumps Club in Eagleville. “I wouldn’t say she picked it up easily or naturally. She’s just unbelievably hard-working.”

PIAA track and field championships day one

Solanco’s Katie Urbine shows off her PIAA gold medal.

Urbine kept returning to the gym, with her parents behind the wheel, and kept training with her club coaches. Five years later, the transformation was complete. She was the best in the state.

Solanco’s senior cleared 13-9 to break the meet record and capture Class 3A gold at the PIAA Track and Field Championships at Seth Grove Stadium Friday. It was Urbine’s first state title and the final item on her to-do list.

“I don’t think it’s really hit me yet that this is my last high school meet,” Urbine said. “It will and I’ll be very sad. I’m so honored to be able to leave a legacy.”

No one in Pennsylvania has done it better. Urbine has the numbers to prove it.

The senior surpassed Mackenzie Horn’s record of 13-3 at the PIAA meet. She eclipsed the Manheim Township great’s district mark of 13-7.25 six days earlier.

Urbine outlasted Mount Saint Joseph’s Veronica Vacca, who also topped 13-3 to match Horn, to take first. Elizabethtown’s Anna Rank placed seventh at 12-3.

It took about a year for Urbine’s tools to turn into improvement. It took two years before she started bringing home gold.

“Something in her just triggered,” Solanco coach Jen McDowell said. “She knew she could do it and here we are.”

PIAA track and field championships day one

Solanco’s Katie Urbine reacts after clearing 13 feet 9 inches to win the 3A girls pole vault.

Urbine’s speed never went away. She can run the 100-meter dash in the mid-12s and she helped Solanco’s 400 relay, which also featured Olianna Oravitz, Sarah Bard and Emma Housekeeper, set a school record at 48.77. The race was minutes after Urbine’s final jump.

Progress in the pole vault has been incremental. Urbine cleared 11-6 as a sophomore, 13-0 as a junior and now 13-9. The next step is 14-0, which will be waiting for her at Liberty University.

“Her mom calls her Steady Eddie,” said Mondschein, a former state champ at Hershey. “She figures things out at her own pace. That’s what I think is the best part of her story.”

When she won indoor championships the past two years, Urbine received a watch as her prize. She preferred a medal. McDowell and Solanco’s booster club came up with the money to have one made.

This time the medal was ready and waiting. It’s the one Urbine has coveted since she placed sixth behind Central Bucks West’s Chloe Timberg at this stadium two years ago.

“It’s so massive,” Urbine said. “It’s like the size of a hamburger. This is such a milestone.”

Urbine traveled 2.5 hours round trip two or three days a week for workouts at Philly Jumps Club. She was grateful to her mom and her dad, Howard, who provided the ride and opportunity.

Determination did the rest.

“This is the fairy tale ending,” Mondschein said. “It’s a great way for her to go out.”

PIAA track and field championships day one

Solanco’s Katie Urbine attempts 14 feet after winning the 3A girls pole vault with a jump of 13 feet 9 inches and a new state record during day one action of the PIAA track and field championships at Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium Friday May 26, 2023.

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