You would think asking an eighth-grader to take up competing in the pole vault would be a tough sell.
That wasn’t necessarily the case with Eastwood junior Elise Wolff.
“I was in gymnastics for a long time and coach (Nikki) Sabo told me to try it and I was like, all right,” Wolff said. “I just kind of went into it really not knowing what it was. It wasn’t intimidating, because I was used to heights.”
Sabo, Eastwood’s girls’ track and field coach, said the Eagles’ coaches often look for gymnasts to try the pole vault because of their upper body strength. Sabo recalled not getting much resistance from Wolff.
She said, “Sure, I’ll give it a try,’ ” Sabo said. “It takes guts to try it. Each year she gets better and better. She is a hard worker, and she’s very competitive. She gives you everything she has and she’s coachable.”
Wolff, who is coached by Sabo’s husband, Brian, the Eastwood boys track coach, and assistant coach Ethan Downey, a former standout pole vaulter at Otsego, has not only turned into a decent pole vaulter, she’s a record-setting vaulter.
“I think I picked up on it pretty quick,” she said. “My coaches really helped me lot. They were great and made it easy to learn. I like that it’s unique. Not many people are like, hey, I’m a pole vaulter. I really think when you have a good run and get a PR, the feeling after that is indescribable. PR’ing is definitely the fun part.”
The Eagles won the Northern Buckeye Conference championship two weeks ago – their 13th straight league title – with a lot of help from Wolff. She set a meet record in the 100-meter hurdles (16.41) and in the pole vault with a personal-best effort of 10-3. The previous school record was 9-8, and she set an NBC meet record last season with a vault of 9-3.
How did she go from a PR of 9-3 last season to 10-3 this spring?
“This winter I went harder in the weight room and had indoor practices almost every Sunday,” Wolff said. “We had indoor meets. I was practicing in the winter going into my sophomore year, but not as hard. I played volleyball my freshman year going into my sophomore year and it got into my time. I just managed to make it to more practices and more meets in the pole vault.”
Wolff qualified for the state indoor meet in late March in Akron, but she had a rough day. She placed 12th with a vault of 8-6.
“I was happy I got there,” she said, “but I was disappointed with my height. I cleared nine (feet) a lot during indoor season. I just couldn’t do it that day.”
Wolff is the Eagles’ third-leading scorer this season despite basically competing in just the 100 hurdles and pole vault all year. Sabo said she has to try to keep Wolff as healthy as possible because she is prone to painful shin splints.
“It’s something I get usually every year, usually during track season,” Wolff said. “I got them early this year in track season. It just feels like constant pain when you jump, like a shocking pain going up your leg. It’s really frustrating because you do everything you can to get better. Sometimes I wish I was in more events, but I try not to focus on that too much.”
Wolff Elise took second in the pole vault and third in the 100 hurdles at last week’s Division II district meet at Oak Harbor. The top four district placers advanced to this week’s regional meet in Lexington.
“My main goal is to make it to state,” Wolff said. “It all depends on what I do at that (particular) meet that really matters. I have confidence that I can get there.”