By Larry Gage
Special to the PRESS
Port Isabel High School senior pole vaulter Marlyn Cesenes is ready to get started on the 2020 high school track and field season. She has been making the most of the recent ideal weather and is hard at work on preparations for the first meet of the season, which will take place next week in San Benito. She took time before practice this week to talk to the PRESS about how it’s all going down.
“It’s a little bit of pressure because, as a senior, it’s my last year. I feel prepared,” she said.
Cesenes spent a lot of time during the off-season working out and, in December, even competed in a meet at College Station.
“I went to an indoor meet at College Station,” Cesenes said. “There were a lot more people than last year and I placed 20th (in a field of 50) in my division. My best height was 11 feet 6 inches.”
Last summer, she spent time working on her vaulting technique at St. Joseph’s high school in Brownsville. Now that practice for the 2020 season has officially started, she’s doing all her vaulting at Tarpon Stadium. Other aspects of her training sessions include running.
“We run at the gym on a treadmill and I usually go for a run around the neighborhood in the morning. Then I go for a swim. It’s a little neighborhood where I live so it’s probably, like, two miles.”
“Running’s important,” PI vaulting coach Jack Garcia told the PRESS. “She has to stay in condition and I think she’s going to run (in competition) a few races this year.”
And it may be news to Marlyn, but Garcia says that she will also be putting in time in the weight room this season.
Cesenes ran the 400-meters and the 4 x 400-meter relay last season and did rather well. At the district meet in Hidalgo, she ran 4th in the 400-meters with a time of 1:03.08 and, running the second leg in the 4 x 400, was 2nd in that event in 4:25.42.
Her primary event, though, is the pole vault. She comes into this season as the defending district champion and will be trying to clear 12 feet in the event for the first time. Cesenes was second at the area meet (9-06.00) and advanced to the regional meet in Kingsville, where she placed 7th.
Each attempt on the vault begins with the run-up. Cesenes talked about how far back from the box she usually starts when it’s time to go.
“On the runway I can start at, like, 67 feet back from the box,” she said. “But as the meet continues, and the bar is moving up to 10 feet, ten-feet-six, I start moving back and I’ll start at 80 or 90 feet back. And if you run slower than before your steps are going to be wrong, and the pole bends the opposite way and you fall on the track.”
Sounds like a good way to get hurt. Cesenes has been injured on at least one attempt.
“Last year, at practice the week before regionals, I went up, was on the bar and I came straight back down and hit my neck,” she recalled. “I fractured a bone, so I only got to practice for two days before regionals.”
The pole used by Texas high school vaulters is 11 feet long and weighs less than two pounds. Each pole is rated according to the amount of resistance it provides to the vaulting athlete.
“I’m using the same poles I did last year,” Cesenes said. “The UCS pole is a really good pole because it flexes the way you want it to. The EX pole is really good, too. It’s used by a lot of pros. I use both of them. The UCS pole has 130 pounds of resistance and I weigh 105.”
Garcia is confident of Marlyn’s chances to hit twelve feet for the first time.
“She can if she wants to work hard enough for it, and I’m here to work hard for her,” he said. “If she’s willing to work hard we can get it. She wants it and that’s the good thing about her. She wants to get better and I want her to be better.”
The San Benito meet will be held on Friday, February 7. The first of two chances family and friends will have to see their Lady Tarpons at home will be Valentine’s Day, Friday the 14, when the Tarpon Relays will go off. This year’s district meet is also back in PI and that will be on April 2 and 3.