TAMPA — In the complex anatomy of a track and field meet, pole vaulting isn’t so much a vital organ as it is outlandish accessory. It’s the mullet, the nose ring, equal parts eccentric and extreme.
“Pole vaulters,” former Wharton girls state champion Natalie Moser said, “are a different breed.”
And perhaps no one at Saturday’s Class 4A state track meet personifies the sport more than Moser’s latest pupil.
Some time Friday afternoon, Wildcats senior London Enos will stream a little AC/DC or Bon Jovi into her headphones, lace up her shiny pink-and-black New Balance spikes, grab one of her flexible fiberglass poles — ranging in length from 12 to 13 feet — and try to vault more than 11 feet into the air.
Among those cheering her on, either in person or from afar: siblings whose first names are really Mercedes, Rocky and Steel; aunts and grandparents traveling from as far as Minnesota, her mom, and a dad who spent a previous life as a flamboyant tag-team wrestler in the WWF.
Clearly, London AnnMarie Enos — first name inspired by a “Mrs.” beauty pageant her pregnant mom was watching — is a bit more eclectic than even your typical 18-year-old non-conformist.
And for her particular endeavor, that’s an ideal attribute, one that already has helped her win one state title.
“If I clear 12 feet and I come down and break my ankle, it’ll be so worth it,” said Enos, whose personal-best 11-foot effort won last year’s 3A meet.
“You have to have that determination and motivation to do this sport. You can’t give it 50 percent and just get over it. …My dad’s a wrestler, so him being a crazy maniac, pain’s nothing — me being raised like that made me a good (vaulter).”
Before opening his own painting company in Tampa, Mike Enos, a state prep discus champion in Minnesota, spent 12 years wrestling in various organizations worldwide. He enjoyed his greatest success in the early 1990s as part of the WWF’s “Beverly Brothers,” a notorious tag team with long blond mullets whose gimmick was that of spoiled rich kids.
His daughter inherited not only his straight blond hair, but his athleticism, which allowed him to throw his 260-pound body around a ring 23 nights a month.
A longtime gymnast and cheerleader, London has used the agility and flexibility developed from those longtime pursuits — not to mention sheer speed — to flourish the past three seasons.
“She is fast,” said Moser, who won the state title in 2002 with an effort (12-6) that remains a Wharton school record. “Speed is half the battle in pole vaulting. If you’re slow, you’d be very lucky to try to clear 9 feet. You need speed. She’s got great turnover speed that she brings at the end.”
Saturday, she’ll bring it a final time, bent more on beating her own personal-best than any of the 15 other competitors.
“A lot of people don’t even know what pole vaulting is,” she said. “And I love that it’s an individual sport; you compete with yourself. I don’t worry about winning, it’s not my priority. It’s about …getting heights that I set as a goal for myself.”
But if she does get pushed by another vaulter? All the better for this airborne free spirit.
“It seems like when she gets pressured or challenged she seems to do better,” Mike Enos said. “That’s almost good because she’s seeded second (behind East Ridge’s Brianna Arellano) at state so she’ll want it more.”
State track meet
Where: Showalter Field, Winter Park
When: 3A, Friday; 4A, Saturday
Schedule: 4x800 relay and field events, 1 p.m.; running event prelims, 4 p.m.; running event finals, 6:30 p.m.
Admission: $8 per meet
3A boys qualifiers: Armwood -- Trevarius Bradley (4x800 relay), Vaughn Cross (triple jump), Treyon Hankerson (4x400 relay, 4x800 relay), Ben Hilton (4x800 relay, 1600), Richard Jules (300 hurdles, 4x400 relay, 4x800 relay), Aaron King (4x400 relay), Leon McQuay (high jump), Ronald Thomas (4x400 relay); Hillsborough -- Carlos Flores (4x800 relay), Jeremiah Green (triple jump, 4x100 relay), Evan Jennings (300 hurdles), Rodney Johnson (4x100 relay), Brandon McFadden (shot put), Kyle McKay (4x800 relay), Terrence Mitchell (long jump, triple jump, 100), Carlton Walton (long jump, triple jump, 4x100 relay), Robert Wilson (4x800 relay), Fabian Woodard (4x800 relay), Jordan Worlds (4x100 relay); Jefferson -- Arthur Dunnigan (200); King -- Karim Hussein (300 hurdles); Plant City -- Alex Delfino (pole vault); Sickles -- Julian Gines (1600); Spoto -- John Akins (discus), Jordan Archie (4x400 relay), Jamar Burns (4x400 relay), Kelvin Gant (4x400 relay), Andre Jones (200, 4x400 relay)
3A girls qualifiers: Durant -- Grace VanDeGrift (1600, 3200); East Bay -- Nakia Love (long jump, triple jump); Hillsborough -- Ebone Aikens (4x100 relay), Anquinette Calhoun (4x100 relay, 4x400 relay), Ciarra Hawkins (400, 4x400 relay), Laqueisha Henderson (4x100 relay), Derricka Johnson (4x100 relay), Jorian Ordway (4x400 relay), Narricka Williams (100 hurdles, 300 hurdles, 4x400 relay); Jefferson -- Aliscia Buford (shot put); King -- Sandra Akachukwu (high jump, 200, 4x100 relay), Carol Hardy (4x100 relay), Jamila Holloway (4x100 relay), Ashley McBride (long jump, 100, 4x100 relay); Sickles -- Desire Clark (4x100 relay), Celine Innocent (4x100 relay), Chelsey Perkins (4x100 relay), Stephanie Valles (4x100 relay); Plant City -- Erika Kolakowski (800)
4A boys qualifiers: Alonso -- Pierot Adonis (shot put), Brandon Holloway (100), Franklin Mosely (400), Gigi Petion (high jump), Lyndon Robertson (110 hurdles, 300 hurdles); Bloomingdale -- Chris Diemer (discus, shot put); Chamberlain -- Max del Monte (1600), Mark Parrish (3200); Freedom -- Jake Kehlenbeck (800); Plant -- Brian Baird (pole vault), Didier Barjon (4x800 relay), Trevor Berecz (4x400 relay, 4x800 relay), Antonio Crawford (4x100 relay), T.J. Glover (400, 4x100 relay, 4x400 relay), Kyle Groh (4x800 relay), Brenton Honeywell (4x400 relay), Javonte Martin (4x100 relay), Bo Nalsen (4x800 relay), Tony Posada (shot put), Allen Sampson (4x100 relay, 4x400 relay); Newsome -- Isaac Baker (4x400 relay, 4x800 relay), Andrew Dowse (4x100 relay, 4x400 relay), Andrew Harris (4x400 relay), Ryan Jameston (pole vault), Adam Mallady (4x100 relay), Tyler Moriarty (4x800 relay), Taylor Rideout (4x100 relay), Michael Tourgee (4x800 relay), Mitch Verboncour (4x400 relay), Kyle Wilson (4x100 relay), Michael Zwijacz (4x800 relay); Riverview -- Roy Davis (4x100 relay), Jerrod Edwards (4x100 relay), Alexander Henley (4x100 relay), Brandon Samuels (high jump), Jamal Stewart (4x100 relay); Wharton -- Matthew Mckernan (4x800 relay), Joe Robinson (4x800 relay), Nick Swain (4x800 relay), Tate Wheeler (4x800 relay)
4A girls qualifiers: Alonso -- Alexandra Biver (triple jump), Quatasia Fantroy (long jump); Bloomingdale -- Johneisha Toppin (300 hurdles); Brandon -- Misha Bolden (300 hurdles), Tiffani Pate (triple jump); Freedom -- Quendreka Davis (4x400 relay), Emily Harvey (4x400 relay, 4x800 relay), Katie Luker (4x400 relay, 4x800 relay), Kaitlynn Pacholke (4x800 relay), Ashley Smith (4x400 relay, 4x800 relay); Plant -- Caroline Gibson (3200); Riverview -- Briana Bell (4x400 relay), Ashley Favors (300 hurdles, 4x400 relay), Ravyn Thomas (4x400 relay), Faith Woodard (high jump, 400, 4x400 relay); Tampa Bay Tech -- Alexia Garcia (100 hurdles), LeRia Jenrette (discus, shot put), Angelina Mills (long jump), Jasmyn Perry (400), Jasmine Wright (100, 200); Wharton -- Leah Chisolm (4x800 relay), London Enos (pole vault), Brooke Foley (4x800 relay), Stevondria Hardy (200, 4x400 relay), Erin Kocher (4x400 relay, 4x800 relay, 800), Shannon Meggs (4x400 relay, 4x800 relay, 800), Abby Ritter (1600, 3200), Tyler Watson (4x400 relay)