SUNNYSIDE During a celebration Tuesday, Feb. 27, Sunnyside High School senior pole vaulter Alexandra “Alex” Partch signed a letter of commitment for Eastern Oregon University.
“This is not an easy thing to do,” Athletic Director Scott Paine said after explaining fewer than 2 percent of high school athletes get to compete at the collegiate level.
Track and Field Coach Dustin Crowe said Alex and the school can be proud of what she’s achieved.
“Pole vaulting is a challenge,” he said, noting the hard work and dedication Alex has shown throughout her high school career.
She has “… worked her way through challenges,” Crowe said, explaining the team didn’t have the best equipment for training when Alex took up vaulting.
“We’re super proud of you,” he said.
Alex chose to attend Eastern Oregon University after having had several colleges and universities send her information.
Her mother, Rebecca, said there were colleges recruiting her.
“A lot of my friends attend Eastern Oregon University,” Alex said.
One of those friends was a track and field competitor from Kennewick with whom Alex was a gymnastics teammate.
Having heard good things about the university, Alex felt it was a good fit.
The former gymnast remembers her parents talking about many Olympic pole vaulters being former gymnasts.
“So, I decided that’s what I was going to do,” Alex said.
She practiced her skills in the off-season as well as during the season to improve the height she was able to clear.
The hard work paid off last May when she broke the school’s record. She cleared 9-feet, 10-inches.
“It felt good to break the school record on my home turf,” she said.
Looking forward to her senior season, she is hoping for a chance to compete at the State championships, “… and help Lanie (Skyles) get better.”
Alex is hoping the younger competitor can fill the void for the Grizzlies once she is at college.
Her father, Joe, said, “I’m very happy and proud of her finding this college to go to.”
He’s not always understood her passion for the sport of pole vaulting since he finds it more frightening than gymnastics.
“I wish she’d kept that sport,” Joe quipped.
“But I have to trust she’s doing it safely.”
Beaming with a proud and accomplished smile, Rebecca, said she is glad all the years of driving Alexandra to and from the Tri-Cities for gymnastics has paid off.
“Pole vaulting requires a lot of upper body strength, which takes a long time to develop,” she explained.
The combination of gymnastics and summer swimming gave Alex an advantage, Rebecca said.
“It feels good she’s picked a place and we know where she’ll be,” the mother said of her daughter’s college choice.
In addition to the athletic opportunities, Alex has been offered academic scholarships from the university due to her 3.9 grade point average and high SAT scores, Rebecca said.
The university isn’t so far away the Partches can’t go see their daughter compete, either… something Rebecca is tickled about.
They will be able to travel to competitions throughout the region, including Spokane and Boise.
“It will be different because the team competes year around,” Rebecca said, noting the university’s track and field team has competitions indoors as well as outdoors.
“Sunnyside turns out great athletes,” Rebecca said.