In the offseason, the Creekview junior worked harder and put in more training than she ever had before.
Though Dunn fell just short of her goal of a state title — she finished a close runner-up to Lee County’s Holly Ebbetts at the Class AAAA state meet — the hard work definitely paid off.
For her accomplishments in the pole vault at the state meet, and her successes in a handful of other events, Dunn is the 2012 Cherokee Tribune Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
“I definitely made some big leaps forward, especially in the pole vault,” Dunn said. “I worked so hard, giving up every Sunday for training. It was a good year, and I’m working to get even better.”
Dunn quickly emerged as one of the county’s top track athletes as a freshman in 2010, sweeping the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles, and finishing runner-up in the pole vault, at the county meet.
She continued her upward trajectory as a sophomore, winning the pole vault and 300 hurdles, and placing runner-up in the pole vault, at county. She then finished eighth in the pole vault at the state meet.
Determined to keep improving, and focused on making a run for the state title, Dunn decided to step up her efforts as she prepared for the 2012 season.
“I am part of a club — Georgia Pole Vault — and they practice every Sunday,” Dunn said. “I trained 2-3 hours every Sunday, and I did extra training at a gymnastics center. I gave up my Sundays, and a lot of my Saturdays, but the extra work paid off.”
Dunn showed just how much the hard work paid off at the Cherokee County meet at Creekview, where she won all three of her events. She won the pole vault with a Creekview stadium record of 11 feet, 2 inches, won the 100 hurdles with a time of 15.56 seconds and then added the 300 hurdles at 49.44.
“That was really exciting,” Dunn said. “I’ve never won three events in a meet before, and to be the top points scorer in the meet and setting a new stadium record in the pole vault was amazing.”
Dunn took another step forward at the Region 7AAAA meet, where she won the pole vault with a personal-best 11-7 — the top mark in the state in Class AAAA this season — and the 100 hurdles with a time of 15.28, while placing runner-up in the 300 hurdles with a personal-best time of 47.20.
Dunn’s vault of 11-7 at the region meet positioned her as a favorite to win the title going into the state meet in Albany.
At the state meet, Dunn and Ebbetts, who was seeded second behind Dunn in AAAA, both vaulted 11-0. Ebbetts, however, was awarded the state title based on fewer vaults missed.
Dunn and Ebbetts each matched the Class AAAA state meet record with their 11-foot vaults.
“Going in, I was pretty confident,” Dunn said. “My performance was pretty good, but Holly Ebbetts was just a little bit better. That just gives me more motivation to come back and do even better next year.”
Dunn is indeed setting her sights even higher as she looks forward to her senior season. She’s aiming to not only win that elusive state title in the pole vault, but to also improve her performance in the hurdles, where she’s looking to surpass her personal-best time of 15.07 that she ran in last year’s region meet.
“I want to finish my high school career with a state title in the pole vault,” Dunn said. “This year, I did not (run a personal-best time) in the 100 hurdles, so my goal is to run in the 14s in the 100 hurdles.”