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Maya Khoury 4th, Sahara Khoury 10th at California Winter Championships meet

Maya Khoury placed fourth in the girls pole vault at the California Winter Championships track and field meet Feb. 3 at Arcadia High School and Sahara Khoury took 10th in that event.

The Khoury twins are currently seniors at Fallbrook High School, whose 2024 track and field schedule begins with a tri-meet Feb. 29 at San Dieguito Academy. They competed with the Escondido-based North County Pole Vault Club at the California Winter Championships.

"It was just really cool to be there and be able to compete with all my teammates," Maya Khoury said.

"It was a great opportunity," Sahara Khoury said. "I was obviously really thankful to be there."

A qualifying height, jump or throw distance, or track event time was needed to participate in the California Winter Championships.

Maranatha Christian senior Kelly DeJong is also a member of the North County Pole Vault Club, and she won the California Winter Championships with a height of 12'8". Harvard‑Westlake High School junior Sofia Rakfeldt cleared 11'7" for second place.

A high jumper or pole vaulter has three chances to clear each distance, and misses at that distance or at lower distances are used as the tiebreaker. Six girls cleared 11'1". Torrey Pines sophomore Alisa Galkina received third place on the tiebreaker and Maya Khoury formally placed fourth.

"My goal was to win a medal," Khoury said. "It was really cool that I was able to do that."

The top six heights earned medals, although a tie for sixth place due to identical misses gave sixth-place medals to two other North County Pole Vault Club members: Shelley Coates of Great Oak High School and Kate Suemnick of Chaparral High School.

Six girl vaulters cleared 10'7" but no higher. Los Alamitos High School junior Olivia Bettinger obtained ninth place due to the tiebreaking criteria. Sahara Khoury was given 10th place.

The pole vault competition began at 9 a.m. Feb. 3 and the athletes faced a headwind. "It was really difficult," Maya Khoury said.

The bar was initially set 10'1" above the ground, and four girls pole vaulters failed to clear even the initial height. Maya Khoury didn't clear 10'1" until her third attempt. "It was very stressful," she said.

She used three different poles to try to clear 10'1". "The first attempt I missed because my pole was too small," Khoury said.

Khoury had to adjust to the headwind but also missed her second attempt at the starting height. "I went up to too big of a pole," she said. "I had to go back down a pole on my third attempt."

After clearing her initial height on that pole Khoury used the same pole and cleared 10'7" and 11'1" on her first attempts at those heights.

On July 15, Khoury cleared 11'5" at the California State Games at University City High School in San Diego to win the girls 17-18 pole vault championship and set a personal record. Khoury thus would have set a personal record had she cleared 11'7" at the California Winter Championships, but the headwind kept her from using the desired pole and she missed all three attempts.

Sahara Khoury also cleared 10'1" on her third attempt. She cleared 10'7" on her second attempt before being unsuccessful on her three attempts to clear 11'1" and settling for 10th place. "I'm actually very content with that," she said. "I did struggle with the headwind."

The goals Sahara Khoury set for herself at the California Winter Championships included using a 13-foot pole, and she was able to do that.

During a 2023 high school dual meet, Sahara Khoury cleared 11'0", which is her personal record. "I was a little disappointed that I didn't get a PR," she said of not clearing 11'1" at the California Winter Championships.

Khoury hopes to improve her personal record during the high school season. "There's going to be a lot of competition," she said.

The Khoury siblings are lifelong Fallbrook residents. Their parents, Nader and Rima, moved to Fallbrook in 2004. Maya Khoury and Sahara Khoury were born in May 2006. Their brother, Kingston, was born in January 2010 and is currently in eighth grade at Sullivan Middle School.

During the coronavirus shutdown, the family was seeking activities and learned about the North County Pole Vault Club. The children took up the sport; their father had been a pole vaulter at John Marshall High School in Los Angeles (their mother attended Aiea High School in Hawaii and was a dancer).

The Khoury twins began their Fallbrook High School pole vaulting competition as freshmen in 2021. At the 2023 Valley League meet, Maya Khoury won the league championship with what was then a personal record of 11'3" and Sahara Khoury had a height of 10'3" for second place.

Author Bio

Joe Naiman, Writer

Joe Naiman has been writing for the Village News since 2001


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