The 2017 Drake Relays was one for the record books for North Polk junior Maria Gorham.
Gorham rose to the occasion in the girls’ high jump Friday at Drake Stadium in Des Moines. She defeated the best high jumpers in the entire state to win the event with a school-record jump of five feet, seven inches.
“I honestly don’t believe that it happened,” a still star-struck Gorham said later Friday evening. “I was looking at my coaches and was like — are you sure? It still hasn’t sunk in.”
Gorham’s winning jump came on her second attempt at 5-7. That was enough to beat out Greene County’s Megan Durbin and Solon’s Josie Durr, both of whom jumped 5-6.
“I think after 5-4 she really started believing she could win,” North Polk head girls’ track coach Scott Huether said. “It’s been fun watching her since she was a freshman and seeing how far she has come in the high jump. And then she did this at the biggest stage — amazing.”
Gorham’s winning jump topped the best jump in North Polk history of 5-6, set by multi-sport star athlete Jordon Andreassen in 2008.
“It was in the back of my head,” Gorham said of the record. “Coach told me (the record) was 5-6 and he said you can probably break that. It’s unbelievable.”
It was also her personal record by two inches.
Gorham had to jump indoors at Drake due to inclement weather, something she said calmed her down after preparing to jump in the rain going into Friday. Gorham is looking forward to the chance at jumping outdoors at state and performing at an even higher level.
“I hope that I can set more personal and school records,” Gorham said. “I have a lot more confidence now.”
That confidence will come in handy at state in a couple weeks. Four of the top six performers at Drake were from 3A schools, including both Durbin — the defending state champion — and Durr, who placed fourth last year.