Taylor Cole had one last opportunity to be an All-Stater.
The Shepherd High School senior pole vaulter then proceeded to do exactly what she needed to Saturday afternoon to make that dream come true.
Or at least so she thought.
I was made aware yesterday through Twitter of an unfortunate situation involving Cole and Pewamo-Westphalia's Sasha Platte in the pole vault which ended with Cole eventually being shut out of Division 3 All-State honors.
You see, the top eight in every event at the state finals earn All-State recognition. Cole cleared 9-foot-6 on her second attempt, while Platte achieved 9-6 on her third try.
Somehow, in what can only be called an egregious error, Platte was given eighth place and an All-State medal. Cole settled for ninth and on the outside looking in.
Everything in the pole vault is based on misses when there is a tie, so with Platte having missed twice before being successful there is no justifiable reason she would be ahead of Cole who missed once.
Following the pole vault, Cole left the area to run in the mile relay believing she was eighth and would be awarded with an All-State medal shortly thereafter.
I reached out to Cole Sunday and she explained what transpired in full details.
"As soon as I got done running in the mile relay, I went over to the medals tent to get in line," said Cole. "When I went over there, there was a girl from Pewamo-Westphalia in the eighth place spot and I didn't really know what to do. That is when (Shepherd girls coach) Carey Hammel and (Shepherd boys coach) Rick Cahoon went up to the press box to see what happened."
Apparently, Pewamo-Westphalia's coach had protested the results even though the results sheet had said Platte finished 10th.
On one results sheet, it said that Platte only cleared 9-6 which she did and should have placed her behind Cole based on criteria. The other results stated that Platte achieved 9-9 which never actually happened and was later corrected, but it could be a major reason as to why she was listed as finishing ahead of Cole.
I just can't see any way this was done in a correct fashion.
"Even the P-W coach admitted she didn't go 9-9, but the misses were still wrong on the sheet and that never got corrected," Cole said.
Platte was then awarded the eighth spot with little to no explanation, while Cole was left in shock realizing her All-State medal had essentially been ripped from her grasp.
"There were coaches from Gladwin and Sanford-Meridian going up there with our coaches for no other reason than to get it right," Cole said. "The Sanford-Meridian coach was keeping track of the entire event because the official was messing up multiple times. She gave the results she had to the press box, which had me beating (Platte). They didn't care. They admitted there were multiple mistakes, but also said they weren't going to change anything as far as the eighth place spot goes. So there wasn't really anything we could do about it at that point."
The MHSAA didn't get it right. Not even in the slightest.
At the very least, the MHSAA needs to admit that Cole got the raw end of the deal and declare a tie for eighth place as it would be severely unfair at this point for Platte to lose her medal.
Would it be so difficult to have an All-State medal delivered to Cole's home, one she rightly deserves?
While the running events stream live on the internet and are all captured on video, there is no such video for the field events. Plus it is against the rules for spectators to shoot video.
So what you have is word against word and from many different sources, the girls pole vault event was run incredibly poorly.
"At the boys pole vault, there were two officials working it. Two or three," said Cole. "At the girls pole vault, there was only one official. There were athletes and coaches complaining about how it was run the whole time, but there was no one else to talk to except the one official. It was run just fine last year by the same official, but this year it was a mess."
What you have is a deserving girl, a senior at that, in Cole who is being completely robbed of All-State honors.
What you probably won't have is the MHSAA holding itself accountable and making a correction.
"That was my only chance," Cole said.
Cole is set to soon head off to Trine University to begin her freshman year, where she will be playing collegiate basketball. She'll be just fine in the long run, but not likely an All-State pole vaulter unless the MHSAA does the right thing.
And that is a case of All-State robbery.