COLUMBUS — Eastwood senior Julia Sabo cleared 11 feet, 10 inches to finish tied for fourth place at the Division II state track meet Saturday.
At Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on the campus of Ohio State University, Sabo tied with Logan Elm senior Tayla Tootle.
“I was very happy with it,” Sabo said. “It was something I wanted to achieve this year and I’m happy with how I did today.
“I wanted 12-2 so I could PR (set personal record), but I’m still very proud of 11-10. I knew to get 12-2 I just had to have the right technique, but I was proud of today.”
Greenon senior Tru Buddenburg won the pole vault by clearing 12-8, Gallia Academy senior Callie Wilson was runner-up at 12-2, and John Glenn sophomore Brayden Snider finished third on jumps, also clearing 12-2.
Julia’s father, Eastwood track coach Brian Sabo, said she was among elite competition.
“She did very well,” coach Sabo said. “We had great warm-ups, and she came and competed in a real good field.
“There were a lot of girls who have cleared at least 12 or higher throughout the last indoor to the last outdoor. I thought she competed well.
“She had a good attempt at 12-2. She battled and got a lot of jumps on her first attempt, which is good, especially the last couple that made her tie for fourth.”
Julia graduates from Eastwood holding the school record at 12 feet, plus she was a key component in many of the sprinting events for the Eagles. Not only is her father the boys coach, but her mother Nicole is the girls coach.
“I don’t have words for it. It was amazing,” Julia said. “It was everything I ever thought it was from when I was younger to how well my parents did as coaches and how well their track team would do.
“I knew I wanted to be a part of that and after being a part of it, it’s everything I thought and more. My parents are great as coaches and being parents at the times they needed to be. I’m so happy I got to be a part of this team.”
Julia did not get to vault her freshman year because of the Covid pandemic, but she was 11th in the state meet her junior year, clearing 11 feet. Her father has gotten to witness her growth first-hand.
“If you go all the way back to middle school, she was kind of a nine-foot jumper and she has just really improved her technique over the years,” Brian Sabo said.
“When you improve your athleticism, you have a chance to jump higher and we were able to get her bigger poles because she has got pretty good speed. She has really focused the last year on being better technically and I think that has really helped.”
As her father, coach Brian says there are other things that impressed him besides her competitive spirit.
“Probably one of the bigger things I think I’m most proud of is the way she approached warm-ups and competition, and honestly just the way she handles herself at the meets, congratulating the kids,” Brian Sabo said.
“Even today when she was all done, she walked over and shook all the officials’ hands — those are the things I’m proud of as her dad. The fourth place is a little bit more her where the other stuff comes in I’m pretty proud of.”
Outside of instruction from her father, much of Julia’s training was at a vaulting facility run by Shawn Beamer in Bellevue, Ohio.
“It was just us and maybe one day a week we would go over to Bellevue,” Brian said. “Shawn Beamer is just a great friend and a great guy. It was another place where we could jump inside during the week.”
Now, Julia begins preparing for college at Eastern Michigan University, where she will continue her vaulting career.
“Like my dad told me, keep being the same person that I am and take in the coaching I get from my new coaches. I know that my parents will still be there,” Julia said.
“My dad is still a coach, and he can help me if I need help during the summer when I’m actually not at Eastern. Everything will still be how I’ve always had it and the only change will be what my coaches tell me.”
Julia Sabo was Eastwood’s only state qualifier to reach the podium, but sophomore Leah Emch placed 12th in the 3200, running in 11:48.76 in 90-degree temperatures.
“One thing with Leah, she was excited about placing ahead of where she was ranked coming in,” Nicole Sabo said.
“She got one of the at-large bids, so that was cool. To just qualify as a sophomore and get that experience, and those were brutal conditions as far as that heat for the distance runners. We were trying to keep her in air-conditioned places as long as we could and those types of things.
“But just the experience that she gained, the confidence that she gained as a state-level competitor is awesome. I think that will just fuel her as far as her training to get ready for cross country and obviously track season for next year.”
Eastwood senior Olivia Newsome finished 14th in the discus, throwing 114 feet.
For the Eastwood boys, senior Bryce DeFalco, who plans to walk on at Bowling Green State University and play football, finished 17th in the long jump, reaching 19 feet. Senior Dalton Hesselbart was 18th in the pole vault, clearing 13 feet.