For a few seconds at the SWAC indoor track and field championships, Alabama State pole vaulter Tanisha Boulware's mindset changed.
The Spring Valley High graduate, the one her teammates call "Dora" after the always-upbeat "Dora The Explorer" cartoon character, began to doubt herself as she struggled to clear the opening height.
"I was getting pretty upset," Boulware said. "I just started praying and saying to myself that I had to get this. I was saying that finishing in the top three would be good. But then I changed my whole mentality and told myself I was going for first as always."
Boulware, a sophomore, then went on to clear 10 feet, 5 1/2 inches to share first place with Jackson State's Equonda Netters and help Alabama State take the team title.
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"I didn't know I tied for first," Boulware said. "I thought I had second. I didn't know I tied for first until they called my name to the podium."
Boulware almost failed to clear any height. She was down to her last attempt at 8-6 when she had to regroup.
"I don't really get frustrated, because I know what I can do," Boulware said. "I know I just have to keep my faith and everything will work out."
"She usually clears that height with her eyes closed," Alabama State coach Ritchie Beene said. "She was making some small mistakes and we got it corrected on that last attempt. After she made it, she came over to me and told me, 'I told you, coach, I wasn't going to let you down.' From that point on, she did her thing."
The 5-foot-11 Boulware began pole vaulting to prove some schoolmates wrong at Spring Valley.
"I'm a risk-taker," Boulware said. "I like challenges, so that's what mainly got me started."
Boulware finished fourth at the Class 4A meet in 2007 by clearing 10 feet. She went a personal-best 11 feet during last year's collegiate outdoors season.
After her success at the indoor championships, Boulware is excited to see what she can do this outdoors season.
"There is more competition outdoors," Boulware said. "I like outdoors better, when the weather is good. I'm really excited to see what I can do."
Tanisha Boulware bio
HIGH SCHOOL: Finished fourth at the 2007 Class 4A state meet in the pole vault by clearing 10 feet as a senior at Spring Valley. . . . Was sixth at the state as a sophomore with height of 9 feet. . . . Finished fourth in the high jump at the state meet as a junior with jump of 5-2 and 10th in the pole vault by clearing 9-6.
COLLEGE: Cleared personal-best 11-0 during outdoors season as a freshman.