Camas pole vaulter aims for personal high

Anna Bedont, a senior, won’t get to compete at state due to COVID-19, so she’s setting a new goal: 11 feet

Sitting in a Tacoma, Washington-area hotel room on the night of May 24, 2019, Camas High School pole vaulter Anna Bedont decided to have a little fun with her appearance for the next day’s 4A state track and field meet at Mount Tahoma High School.

“Me and my friend (and fellow Papermaker pole vaulter) Shea McGee went to a store and bought cheap curlers and a crappy spray tan and made ourselves look really, really stupid for the meet the next day,” Bedont said. “Then we both did … not too good. We looked funny with our curled hair and our blotchy spray tans; then we didn’t jump very high.”

Asked if she thought of trying again in 2020, Bedont admitted that was the plan.

“We were going to do the same thing and hope that we would get No. 1 and No. 2 in state,” she said. “But the meet got cancelled (due to COVID-19), so that was a bummer.”

Bedont is a self-described “outgoing, sociable and friendly” person who likes to reach out and make new friends whenever she can. On the track, however, Bedont is focused and driven, which has allowed her to become one of the top pole vaulters in Southwest Washington.

“I like to work hard and have fun at the same time,” Bedont said. “I like testing my limits and seeing how much I can improve. At each practice, I try to focus on one thing and master it, then move on, because there’s so many things that you have to consider while you’re in the actual jump. I also like meeting new people. There’s always a ton of new people each year that come out for pole vault, so that’s always a fun factor.”

Bedont is “like a typical teenager who enjoys the social part of it, but she takes her sport pretty seriously, too,” according to Camas pole vault coach Dan Kielty.

“Once the season starts, she works hard and really enjoys it,” Kielty said of Bedont. “She really focuses on the details. Physically she’s fine; she’s as good as a lot of the girls. It’s just the little things that make a big difference in this sport, and she has improved on those things.”

Bedont finished 18th at the 2018 4A state meet as a freshman. The next year, she set a personal record of 10 feet, 9 inches, at the 3A/4A Greater St. Helens League district meet, then leaped 9-6 to place 14th at the state championships.

She won’t be able to break out the curly haired look at a state meet this spring, but said she will still stay true to her “work hard, have fun” mantra.

“Since it’s my senior year, I just want to have a good time and be out in the sun and work on my skills a little bit, of course,” she said. “My goal, obviously, is to (set a new personal record), to get to at least 11 feet. But I haven’t vaulted for two years, basically, so I’ll be a little rusty.”

Bedont has the ability to achieve her goals even if she does take a bit of time to round into form, according to Kielty.

“She has a good work ethic,” he said. “She’s very physical and very strong. She attacks the pit. She has an aggressive attitude about jumping. The hard part is you have to convince yourself in the air to turn upside down and flip over and land 10 feet down and that it’s going to be OK, and she does that most of the time. And she comes from a pole-vaulting family, which helps a lot.”

She certainly does. Her father, Curtis, vaulted at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and her older brother, Jacob, was a star vaulter for Camas High before graduating in 2016.

“I’ve always wanted to do pole vault,” said Bedont, who moved to Camas from North Carolina with her family when she was 7. “I was always interested in it (because) it seemed like a really cool event. In seventh grade, I started going to the Willamette Striders (Track Club in Oregon, City, Oregon). I remember my first day, we were doing warmups and I was super excited to hold the pole and get a feel for it. Jumping into the pit was obviously pretty difficult, but I was excited to try to get better and learn the new skills.”

Bedont will continue another family tradition after graduating from Camas High this spring — she’ll attend Brigham Young University, where she plans to study exercise science or kinesiology and psychology.

“I’ve always been super interested in how the body works and the mind, especially — why we do what we do. That’s why maybe (I would minor in) psychology,” said Bedont, who said she likes to hike, paddleboard, play piano and read in her spare time. “How the body works is super interesting to me. I want to learn more about how to stay upper fit when you’re older and how to stay healthy.”

Bedont and the rest of the Papermakers’ track and field team will begin their truncated 2021 season on Thursday, April 22, with a home meet against Union High School at Doc Harris Stadium.