Blind pole vaulter qualifies for state championships
Aria Ottmueller is legally blind, yet has qualified for the state track and field championships in the pole vault. (Source: CBS 5 News)
Ottmueller has 20-400 vision, which basically means what a fully-sighted person can see at 400 feet, Ottmueller has to be 20 feet away. (Source: CBS 5 News)
Valley Christian High School coach Perry Fraley's goal was to see Ottmueller qualify for state next year, but she did it early. (Source: CBS 5 News)
PHOENIX (CBS5) -
A Valley high school pole vaulter just qualified for Arizona track and field state championships.
It's an impressive achievement, but not as impressive as the person who did it.
Aria Ottmueller is legally blind. She has 20-400 vision, which basically means what a fully-sighted person can see at 400 feet, Ottmueller has to be 20 feet away. She has no depth perception and no peripheral vision.
Ottmueller said when she first asked the head track and field coach if she could try pole vaulting, he said no.
"He was like, 'No, you can't pole vault,'" Ottmueller said.
But Ottmueller didn't give up. She kept asking and with time her head coach agreed to let her give it a try.
So Ottmueller went to work with her pole vaulting coach, Perry Fraley, at Valley Christian High School.
Fraley would tell her exactly where to start on the track.
Then Ottmueller would count her steps.
"We started out and did it a lot by feel. He'd take my pole, I'd hold it and he'd put it in the pit and he'd help me get the feel of jumping," Ottmueller said.
"As she got more and more confident, literally leaping blind faith into the pit, we started moving her back, getting her a little bit more run, holding a little bit higher on the pole. Then she was gradually able to work her way into jumping actually in a meet," Fraley said.
Fraley's goal was to see Ottmueller qualify for state next year, but she did it early, clearing the bar set at 6'7".
She will compete at the Arizona track and field state championships this weekend.
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