NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - School's out for the summer, but the time to relax for Stephen F. Austin pole vaulter Demi Payne most certainly isn't now. Payne has all the momentum swinging her way as she's about to compete on the nation's biggest stage, the USA Outdoor Championships.
Coming off winning an NCAA Outdoor Championship, Payne is about to compete against the best in the country for a shot at representing the United States at the World Championships in Beijing, China.
After bringing SFA it's first-ever Division I National Championship, there's no place she'd rather be than on the runway.
"I was so excited and overwhelmed by so many emotions, and so I'm going to ride on that to USA's. I think that's going to give me the extra confidence I need," said Payne.
Payne won the USA Indoor Championships this past March, but realizes it's going to be a different ball game in Outdoors.
"This is like the top dogs. If I just get the top three I'm going to be the happiest person in the world because I make the World Championship team," said Payne. "That's been a goal on my list since I began this so I really want it."
Of course she'll be battling against Arkansas' Sandi Morris, who has been playing a tug of war game with Payne over the NCAA records all season long.
Payne has the indoor record while Morris holds the outdoor record.
"She's right there with me. We've been battling all season so she's going to be one to look out for," said Payne.
Eager eyes from around the world have been locked on Payne and her story that's been nothing short of miraculous.
"This whole year alone has been life changing and it's been crazy. I'm just thankful to be where I'm at," said Payne.
The soon to be senior has improved her jump by almost two feet this year alone. What's even more impressive is Payne's doing all this as a young mother to Charlie Taylor, while juggling the responsibilities of a student athlete.
All the notoriety though hasn't strayed Payne from remembering why she's jumping again in the first place.
"She pushes me every single day. If I do wake up and I'm like 'I don't want to do anything. I just want to be a normal person,' I look at her and I'm like 'You know what? Let's do something. Let's do something great for her.' She pushes me beyond imaginable," said Payne
Charlie will be two in October, but her young mind knows when it's time to cheer on mommy again.
"I got a video after I won of her just clapping her hands and going crazy. I'm always watching pole vaulting videos and she watches them and she points saying 'Momma.' She knows. She knows what's going on," said Payne. "She'll be ready to go in a few years I'm pretty sure."
The USA Outdoor Championships will be this weekend in Eugene, Oregon where Payne will be jumping on Sunday. The top three jumpers will be the ones who qualify for the World Outdoor Championships in Beijing, China later on this summer.