Mt. Zion's Held sisters blend family with fierce competition

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Josie (left) is headed to Illinois this fall to pole vault, while Rhiannon (a Mt. Zion freshman) is a national AAU record holder (11-7.5) who is just beginning her high school career. Josie (left) is headed to Illinois this fall to pole vault, while Rhiannon (a Mt. Zion freshman) is a national AAU record holder (11-7.5) who is just beginning her high school career.

MT. ZION -- Sure, there is the occasional outfit theft. Maybe an unsolicited pointer or two.

Josie and Rhiannon Held are sisters, after all.

But the pole vaulting superstars have a rare kind of bond that supersedes any kind of jealousy or bitter friction, even in the heat of competition. Josie, a Mt. Zion senior, and 14-year-old freshman Rhiannon are both ranked in the Top 6 in the state this outdoor season.

Josie is tied for third in the state regardless of class with a season-best of 12-1. Her personal best is 12-6 and it's a mark that has earned her a spot with the Fighting Illini track and field program this fall.

Rhiannon might be about six inches behind her big sister at this stage in her career, but her future is blindingly bright. She broke a national AAU meet record with a vault of 3.54 meters (roughly 11-7.5) this past summer in Michigan and is head and shoulders above her freshman peers in the state.

The IESA state record for 8th graders is 11-8, set by Rhiannon this past year. No. 2 on the list? Josie, who posted 11-7. That's an incredible, even historic stranglehold on a state record by one family.

Competitors? Certainly. But love and mutual admiration drive the Held sisters' bond, not a desire to one-up the other.

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