Louisiana has had its share of quality pole vaulters. Heather Abadie is not the best known in a group that includes world record holder Mondo Duplantis, a former LSU and Lafayette High star.
But the St. Michael the Archangel standout’s status, just like her vault efforts, is on the rise. Abadie, a junior, was selected as the 2019-20 Gatorade Louisiana Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year, according to a news release announcement Thursday.
With a best vault of 13 feet, 1.5 inches, Abadie soared to No. 10 in the national high school girls indoor rankings, and also won the LHSAA’s Division I indoor title in a season shortened by the novel coronavirus pandemic. Abadie learned she won the Gatorade award from her mother early Thursday morning.
"My mom came in and kind of screamed it to me when I was waking up," Abadie said. "It took a minute for me to realize what I had won and I was so excited. This is so cool ... something I never really expected to win."
Abadie had originally hoped to crack the 13-foot barrier as a sophomore. Clearing it at the LHSAA's indoor meet provided a sense of accomplishment she had hoped for. After missing almost all of the spring high school season because of the pandemic, Abadie is now focused on a several summer meets, with an eye toward reaching greater heights.
“Mondo Duplantis, Gatorade’s 2016-17 NAOY in boys track, redefined the pole vault from his hometown in southwestern Louisiana, but Abadie is starting to make a name for herself in Baton Rouge,” said Erik Boal, a DyeStat editor. “Each of her final four vaults of the indoor season was higher than the last. It will be exciting to see what she has to offer as a senior.”
The Gatorade award recognizes athletic excellence, high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character on and off the field and also distinguishes Abadie. She is now eligible to win Gatorade’s national award that will be announced later this month.
In addition to her success in LHSAA meets, Abadie took second at the National Pole Vault Summit, soaring to 12-8, the first of four straight clearances of that height or higher to close out 2020.
At the LHSAA's 2019 outdoor state meet, Abadie won the pole vault title with a clearance of 12-6, which ranked No. 78 performance nationally. She has vaulted 12 feet or higher 11 times in her prep career and took first in the event at the 2019 AAU National Club Championship.
Abadie has volunteered locally at both a nursing home and a soup kitchen, and has also participated in community service initiatives to help the homeless. She maintains a weighted 3.64 GPA in the classroom.
It marks the third time in four years that a Baton Rouge area competitor has won the Louisiana’s girls Gatorade honor. Baton Rouge High throws specialist Logan Lewis, now a competitor at Southern Mississippi, won the award last year. Dutchtown High jumps specialist Leah Scott, now at Louisiana Tech, won it two years ago.