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Published 3:32pm Thursday, May 29, 2014

Walling inks with JSU track

Who knew that a gymnastics background could make you a good pole vaulter?

Apparently Kelsey Rae Walling did.

Walling hadn’t attempted to pole vault before Hartselle track and field coach Kenny Lopez approached her.

Three years later, she is going to be college pole-vaulter.

“I’m just excited about it,” Walling said.

Walling, the daughter of Brent and Krystal Walling, signed a letter of intent to be a member of the Jacksonville State University track and field team as a pole-vaulter.

While getting the athletic scholarship was important, the main reason why she chose Jacksonville State was due to her academic scholarship offers. She was also offered a scholarship at Samford, but she couldn’t pass up a total of $44,000 in scholarships from JSU.

“That was what made the difference for me,” Walling said. “It was important for me to get so much scholarship money.”

Walling had a career best 10-foot, three-inch effort during her senior year. She finished as the sectional champion in outdoor track, third at the indoor state track meet and third at the outdoor state track meet.

The pole vault was a learning experience for both Walling and Lopez.

“I didn’t know anything about it,” Lopez said. “I asked if Kelsey wanted to give it a try. She did and we learned together. She has helped build up the pole vault for the track team. Now we have eight girls in the pole vault and three in the boys pole vault. She has set the bar pretty high for everyone to come.”

Walling said she appreciated everything that Lopez has done for her.

“He’s been a great coach for me,” Walling said.

Walling said she is planning to go to law school after college and study criminal law.

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