Kirstie Leslie put the finishing touches on her standout athletic career at Washington High School in a big way.
Competing at the MSHSAA track and field championships at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Leslie earned all-state honors in three events.
The top eight finishers in each event earned all-state medals.
“Winning three medals, I went out in a good way,” said Leslie, who reached the state meet during all four years of her high school career. “I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Leslie’s best finish came in the pole vault, where she placed third by clearing 11-3, which equaled her personal best and her school record.
“I was ranked third coming in. Every time, it seems that someone goes out who’s not supposed to and someone else does better than expected,” Leslie said. “My goal was to medal and jump my best, which is what I did. It was a good day. I used Owensville’s pole, so I owe them a thank you.”
So what does it take to be a successful pole vaulter?
“It takes a lot of practice. I didn’t get to practice it as much as the other girls here did,” Leslie said. “All of the other girls who placed, the pole vault was their only event at state. I was the only one who does other events, and I’m in four of them.
“Some girls have good form. That is not me. I’m not a form person,” Leslie added. “I’m fast and I guess I’m strong. If you watch most of the girls, they look really good doing it. I don’t look good doing it. It doesn’t matter how you get over, just as long as you get over.”
Competing in the long jump, Leslie finished fifth with a leap of 17-1 1/4.
“My best is 17-8. I wanted a little better in the long jump than fifth place, but you can’t always ask for a perfect day,” Leslie said. “I probably sat too long — rookie mistake. I should have warmed up better. At sectionals, my triple jump was the same way where I had to get into the finals with my last jump. I usually do good under pressure. We haven’t practiced the long jump as much, but I’ve been doing it a while and have gotten better at it.”
Competing in the triple jump, Leslie won her third state medal by placing sixth with a leap of 37-1.
“I wasn’t expected to do this well. I think I was ranked 13th,” Leslie said. “It worked out pretty well for me. It was a good way to end the season.”
So which event is Leslie’s favorite?
“I like whatever is going the best for me at the time,” she said. “The pole vault went pretty well. We practiced pole vault a lot this year. We’ve definitely spent the most time on pole vault. I’m glad it paid off this year.”
Leslie also ran the anchor leg on the Lady Jays’ 400-meter relay team, which finished 11th in a time of 50.52.
MC Landolt, Lauren Brinkmann and Emily Stricker joined Leslie on the relay team.
Leslie ended her track and field career at Washington as an 11-time GAC champion, an 11-time all-district performer, a nine-time state qualifier and a four-time state medalist.
She finished fourth at state in the triple jump during her freshman season, giving her four career state medals.
“In the past few years, I’ve been nervous and stressed out here at state, but this year has been totally different,” Leslie said. “It’s my last year. I’m older. I guess that helped. It’s been a lot better.”
Washington Coach Mike Olszowka is thankful Leslie competed in four events, but said her state results could have been even better if she was involved in less events.
“If Kirstie concentrated on just two events, I think she could have been a state champion in both of them. I think she could have been a 40-foot triple jumper and a 12-6 or 13-foot pole vaulter. Those are her two best events,” Olszowka said. “Kirstie has great athletic ability. She can throw a shot put 30 feet, a discus 8-0 feet and a javelin 100 feet. Her versatility is one of her strongest attributes. People don’t realize how fast she is.”
Leslie recently was honored as a triathlete, participating in athletics in all three seasons during her entire career at WHS. She also played volleyball and basketball.
Leslie will continue her track and field career at Missouri State University in Springfield.
“I’ll do the heptathlon, the triple jump and I just found out that I’ll also be doing the pole vault. I guess I’ll be doing a little bit of everything there, too. I’m used to that. I like to stay busy,” Leslie said. “It was a good career for me at Washington. I owe a lot to the coaches. I’m ready to go to college and see what happens there.”