North Carolina pole vaulters Cameron Overstreet and Sandi Morris have their differences.
Morris uses her raw athleticism to power over the bar, while Overstreet draws on her background in gymnastics and technical skill. Yet despite these quirks, their desire to excel as a unit is what brings them together.
Overstreet and Morris cleared the same height at this weekend’s Dick Taylor Invitational, taking the top two places. Their jumps of 13-1 1/2 inches placed them nearly a foot above the third-place height. Overstreet was eventually awarded the win for having missed fewer jumps on the day.
Morris, a sophomore who holds the school record in the women’s pole vault, could be excused for begrudging freshman Overstreet’s winning performance. But it’s clear that both value each other’s success equal to their own.
“I just want to give Sandi a training partner, for her to have someone to jump with,” Overstreet said.
Overstreet knows the value of this type of camaraderie. In high school, the only training partners on her level were boys.
Overstreet met Morris when the two were in high school and competed in meets around the Southeast. But their friendship didn’t begin in earnest until Morris hosted Overstreet on a recruiting visit last year.
“A lot of people ask, ‘Do you guys get really competitive with each other?’” Morris said. “But I haven’t felt that at all. I guess when I see her jump really well, it gets me pumped up to jump really well, too. We do everything together. Even if she’s jumping two feet higher than me, I’ll always be cheering her on.”
Jacinda Evans, a senior UNC long jumper, has a similar relationship with her junior protégé Chrishawn Williams. Like Overstreet and Morris, the pair placed first and second respectively in the meet.
“We are both really competitive,” Evans said. “When I jump good, it makes (Williams) jump good, and when she jumps good, it makes me want to jump even better.”
Similarly, assistant head coach and vaulters’ coach Josh Langley said Overstreet’s arrival is already pushing Morris to make greater strides in her vaulting.
“I won’t say that one is more intense than the other,” he said. “But Cameron is definitely a little more focused when it comes to certain aspects of the vault, and Sandi is the one who brings her pure athleticism to the table.
“Cameron is pushing herself every day to stay up with Sandi in the workouts, and Sandi is trying to stay up with Cameron as far as the technical side of things goes.”
While Morris’ mark this weekend was a foot below her personal best, she and her coach understand that such one-two finishes will be far from a rarity in the coming years as the pair develops.
“It’s a healthy, competitive environment at practice,” Langley said. “You can’t have it where two studs don’t want to share the spotlight, but these two have absolutely no problem sharing the spotlight with each other.”
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