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Chloe Cunliffe used to make a lot of big-bouncing, sharp-cutting moves in gymnastics. But not only did they wear her down, they were often a source of constant agony.

So in ninth grade, Cunliffe decided to make a full-time jump into another athletic venture.

And it's proven to be one giant leap in girls pole vaulting.

Now a senior at West Seattle High School, Cunliffe ran off a pair of record-breaking performances in a matter of a few weeks this spring.

In March, the talented Washington State University signee set a new national high school girls indoor mark with a vault of 14 feet, 9 1/4 inches at a women's open invitational in Tacoma.

And earlier this month at the prestigious Arcadia Invitational (Calif.), Cunliffe broke the prep girls outdoor record at 14-8 - on a severely sprained ankle.

"Nothing that she does surprises us anymore," said sixth-year West Seattle girls track coach Will Harrison, a former record-setting distance runner at Seattle Pacific University. "She has just set the bar so high."

Figuratively and literally.

Given her background - she is the younger sister of former University of Oregon track and field star/NCAA sprinting champion Hannah Cunliffe, and current Evansville men's basketball guard Sam Cunliffe - her quick ascent even in a very physically-taxing and highly-technical event such as pole vaulting should come as little surprise.

"We all have the same (speed and strength combination) because our dad (Mike) started us in track and field very young," Chloe Cunliffe said.

https://youtu.be/b_8l9Vzn4-c

Before high school, Cunliffe was a year-round gymnast, holding on to dreams of one day being in the Summer Olympics.

"But I realized I was too old, too tall and did not start young enough in that sport," Cunliffe said. "Plus I had a bunch of injuries to my back and ankle."

Cunliffe decided to give pole vault a try, and immediately started training with highly-respected Tim Reilly, the owner of Northwest Pole Vault Club in Seattle.

"He handed me a pole, and it felt weird," Cunliffe said. "In fact, I was sort of making fun of it. But I thought, 'How much fun would it be to go high?' So I did it."

In her first meet, Cunliffe cleared 9-9. And the heights kept growing.

In 2017, Cunliffe set the state's all-time sophomore mark of 12-9 to win the Pasco Invitational.

Last season, she rewrote the state junior record with a 13-8 1/2 to win the Class 3A state championship at Mount Tahoma Stadium.

And in July, she cleared 14-0 for the first time with Seattle Speed Track Club at a USATF regional Junior Olympics meet.

But the highlight so far came on a warm night at the Arcadia Invitational on April 7.

It took meet officials 20 minutes to set up the bar at 14-8 so it would be considered an official mark. And Cunliffe did not make the crowd wait very long to see a new benchmark posted.

"I knew, too, that I was over that," Cunliffe said. "And as I was in the air, I like like, 'No way.' And then my hands were in the air."

That first-attempt vault completed the clean sweep of wiping out the national high school records the twin Weeks sisters of Arkansas set in 2015 - Lexi's outdoor mark (14-7 1/2) and Tori's indoor mark (14-4).

"(Cunliffe) is very, very athletic, so she is able to compete and jump high on pure strength and speed alone," said Lev Marcus, West Seattle's pole vault coach who was an All American at the University of Washington. "She is just getting into the nuances of that. When she masters those, the heights will increase."