WCHS track star Ally Beneke jumped to first place in the Division 1 AAA high jump competition at the TSSAA state track and field tournament on Thursday. She jumped 5 feet, 6 inches to bring home the title beating out Nolensville’s Elise Dobson by 2 inches.
“It was one of my goals,” said Beneke on winning the state title.
The junior was very excited to win despite a major obstacle along the way. “It was very difficult this year,” she said, “I lost my high jump coach.”
WCHS track coach Patty Kelly died unexpectedly Feb. 26 at the age of 39 just as track season was about to begin. The loss was felt throughout the track and field community.
Beneke said she had a lot of other obligations that made preparing for the state championship a challenge, but she trained in Cookeville and with her dad in McMinnville. She knew she could jump high since fifth grade when they offered the activity for a field day.
“My first time ever jumping was in elementary school,” Beneke said. “I set the elementary school record jumping 4 feet.”
It wasn’t her first time seeing such an event, she added. “My sister also jumped so I kind of followed her lead.”
As a DeKalb County student competing with the Warren County track team, she felt the support of her teammates.
“Everybody there is so nice. We get along well over there,” she said.
Beneke also credited coach Kristen Van Vranken, saying she knows how excited the coach is for her and the team.
Van Vranken said, “I think Ally competed with tremendous poise and confidence today. She was focused and relaxed. It was a wonderful way to honor coach Kelly’s memory, being a state champion.”