She was one of the favorites in the triple jump, but opted to pass up the event. The Pontotoc High School senior and MSU track signee exchanged her athletic shorts for a dress and attended the prom.
"I love the triple jump, more than the long jump," said Brinker, who is the defending 4A state champion in the triple jump. "This was my senior prom. Coach gave me the OK to leave."
The coach, Mike Bain, who is in his 33rd season of coaching, calls Brinker an elite jumper.
"She's strong in the long jump and triple jump," he said. "Her jumps have been nationally ranked. She also runs the quarter for us in the 4 x 400 relay.
"She's a multiple-event athlete. MSU will find a place for her to run, too."
Brinker, along with teammates Rhandi Ball and Katie Gentry, are the reasons Pontotoc is favored to repeat as state champions later this spring at the 4A state meet in Pearl. All three seniors were starters - Brinker and Ball forwards, Gentry a guard - this season for Pontotoc's basketball team, which reached the state semifinals.
Because they played so deep into hoops season, the trio was behind on training for track and field. The meet at MSU was their first of the season.
"They're all trying to catch up," Bain said.
Having a Ball
Ball, the state's 100 meters champion last season, returns to run the event, along with the 100-meter hurdles, 200 meters and high jump. She placed second last year in the state meet in the hurdles, 200 and high jump.
"She can dominate events," Bain said. "She's big, she's gutsy and she's a good sprinter. I'm hoping she'll get a look from schools this season."
Ball, an all-around athlete, played guard/forward this season for the Lady Warriors basketball team that reached the state semifinals. She was named to the Daily Journal's 10-member All-Area team after averaging 14.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.9 steals and 2.8 assists per game.
Ball placed second at MSU in the 100 meters and finished fifth in the hurdles.
Scared of heights
Gentry, also an MSU signee, is listed at 5-foot-2 on the basketball roster. "It's really 5-nothing," she said, then smiled.
However, it wasn't her standing height that impressed the Bulldogs. It was her pole vault of 10 feet, 2 inches last season that caught the Bulldogs' attention.
"I'm actually scared of heights," she said following a practice session. "Really, I used to do gymnastics and I was afraid of the bars. I wouldn't fly in a plane. I didn't climb trees."
Despite her fear, she's able to successfully pole vault.
"It's not that scarey once you do it," she said. "Of course, the first time wasn't scary because I wasn't jumping that high."
This season, Gentry has her sights on soaring at least 11 feet and maybe 12.
"She's got the technique and she knows how to vault," Bain said. "In college, she'll get the time she needs to get stronger and faster."
Gentry won the state title last season with a vault of 9 feet. She placed fifth last week at MSU with a 9-6.
Contact Gene Phelps at 678-1593