State champion vaulter selects Keydets

Published 8:40 pm Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The first state champion in King’s Fork’s athletic history, pole vaulter Allen Kelly, signed a letter of intent and a scholarship to attend Virginia Military Institute on Tuesday evening at King’s Fork High School.

Kelly, who started vaulting as a sophomore, progressed so quickly that he was the best in the state just over a year later, winning the outdoor season state championship. Kelly currently holds the best vault in the state for the ongoing indoor season, a mark of 15 foot 8.

Kelly had his mind set on VMI since the end of his sophomore year.

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“I want someone on my back to make sure I get my work done,” said Kelly on Tuesday after making the paperwork official.

“If it’s harder being a student-athlete, that’s better for me. The harder I work, on athletics and on studies, the more it will pay off after school.”

That work ethic is what has taken Kelly from a complete beginner to pole vaulting two years ago to having the sixth-best vault for a high school athlete in the nation this season. Kelly’s pole vault coach, Cary Carter, believes there’s a lot more within Kelly’s ability.

“As far as achieving goals and reaching what he’s wanted, he’s doing it by leaps and bounds,” said Carter.

Other than more district, regional and state titles, the 16-foot mark is the next milestone for Kelly.

“He’s certainly capable of doing it,” said Carter, “I’ve enjoyed working with Allen tremendously…we’ve done a lot of things together which have really been memorable for me.”

Tony Johnson, King’s Fork’s boys track coach, is in his first year as King’s Fork’s head coach.

“All I’ll say is it’s been really good to have a leader like him,” said Johnson.

“Allen’s a born leader. We have a few young pole vaulters who have started this year and he’s instrumental in bringing them along.”

King’s Fork’s athletic director, Randy Jesse, praised Kelly for his academic work.

“We expect the hard work and dedication he’s shown to reach this point will serve him very well in his four years at VMI,” said Jesse.