On Friday night, after Whitlock missed her first try at 13'9�", Dragila cleared the height and took the lead for good, even though Whitlock made a second-try clearance. The two women then moved the bar to 14'6'�," but neither of them came close on three tries. Though disappointed, Dragila chalked up her failure to a recent stint of student teaching, which had curtailed her training. She noted that this might mean she will peak later this season, which would please her.
Still, no one at last Friday's meet is likely to peak later than Shepard. Last spring, as a seventh-grader, she cleared 12 feet, nearly pulling off the rare feat of vaulting her age—she had turned 13 some four months earlier. At Millrose she looked all limbs and seemed slightly out of place in her baggy black shorts amid the shimmering Lycra. But Shepard broke the national high school indoor record with a jump of 12'6" and had one decent try at 12'11". Among those she impressed was men's vault winner Jeff Hartwig, who broke Bubka's meet record with a clearance of 19'2�". "Bubka has always said it takes 10 years to master the vault," said Hartwig. "None of the women vaulting now has been doing it for anywhere near that long. Heck, when I was in ninth grade my best was 9'6". The best for sure is yet to come."