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Tokar smashes records in pole vaulting, perseveres through injuries

Senior+Holly+Tokar+is+ranked+11th+in+the+country+for+pole+vaulting.+Credit%3A+Cindy+Tokar.+Used+with+permission.
Senior Holly Tokar is ranked 11th in the country for pole vaulting. Credit: Cindy Tokar. Used with permission.
Senior Holly Tokar is ranked 11th in the country for pole vaulting. Credit: Cindy Tokar. Used with permission.

Ranked 11th in the country for pole vaulting, senior Holly Tokar has been smashing records left and right locally.

Breaking the Ventura High School stadium record on March 9 with a 12’3″ jump, Tokar didn’t stop there. She went on to jump a 12’6″ at Trabuco Hills Invitational, initially breaking the Ventura County record. Then, weeks ago at Ventura County Championships, she jumped a 12’7″ breaking the county record yet again as well as the meet record.

“This season has been great so far. Everything I’ve been working for is coming together and it’s just been a blast,” Tokar said.

But these feats have not come without their share of adversity. In her second year pole vaulting, as a sophomore in high school, Tokar fractured her sacrum after crashing into the metal side standard and missing the pit. This accident caused her to be sidelined during a seven-month-long recovery. The next July she suffered from torn cartilage in the knee which took three months to recover from.

“I was super lucky though that I wasn’t hurt worse and was able to fully recover. I am forever grateful and it taught me to not take things for granted. My coaches and parents have taught me that things happen and every set back can be converted into new opportunity,” Tokar said. “That injury was a blessing because it allowed me to re-focus and come back both physically and mentally stronger than ever. Yes the past two years have been frustrating but I wouldn’t trade them because I became a stronger athlete because of them.”

Being a gymnast all her life, Ventura High School coach Kory Anderson saw great potential for a successful transition to pole vaulting in high school, which would also help the sport make a comeback at the school. Tokar was one of the first female pole vaulters in VHS’s history, along with Foothill alumnus Jackie Kroll (’11).

“She’s always been very dedicated and hardworking. She’s just getting attention for all of it now, but we’ve known for a long time,” Anderson said.

Anderson went on to explain that it is not only her hard work in athletics that he admires, but also as a student. Tokar is a UC Davis-bound senior balancing four AP classes with a demanding sports career.

“It’s been difficult at times, especially during track season, which is in the middle of second semester, AP prep and testing, et cetera but I’ve always been able to manage. Time management is something I’ve learned over time and always been pretty good about,” she said. “I love having a busy schedule because I can’t procrastinate. I also make myself go to bed by 10 p.m. and that forces me to get things done. Foothill’s long lunch is a blessing because I get a lot done during that time.”

Tokar has a bright future ahead of her, with a plan to continue her pole vaulting career at UC Davis and a fast approaching season of CIF qualifiers. With League Finals, CIF prelims, CIF finals, and CIF masters, before the state competition there is a lot riding on her performances to keep her 4th best ranked in state.

“The state meet is June 1. That’s the ultimate goal, to be there on the podium. I have to make it through four qualifying meets. It’s a long process,” she said.

Her determination to persevere through injuries, long tournaments, and sore muscles stems from the people in her life who inspire her most: Her coach and her parents.

“Coach Anderson is wonderful and the greatest coach I’ve ever had. He made me recognize what was possible for me as an athlete and has been there for me throughout this whole journey. More than that, he has taught me so many things about life and being a good person,” she said. “Also my parents are great. They come to every meet and have been by my side through it all, always putting things in perspective for me and reminding me to work hard but love what I do.”

At Channel League Finals, Tokar vaulted 12’10”. That’s a new personal best, Channel League, VHS, and Ventura County record.

“True success comes only when you love what you’re doing,” she said.

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Tokar smashes records in pole vaulting, perseveres through injuries