Logan Elm senior Tayla Tootle recently signed a national letter of intent to compete in track and field at Murray State University, an NCAA Division I institution located in southwestern Kentucky. Tootle finished fifth in the Division II pole vault at the state championships as a junior.
Question: Talk to us about the recruiting process that you went through?
Answer: I started the recruiting process during the winter of my junior year. Most of the colleges that I’d previously received messages from didn’t have the major I wanted to take, so I had to turn them down. I started making a Google sheet, organizing the colleges I wanted to reach out to that had my major. After reaching out to them and talking to some of the coaches, I started planning visits with the coaches. The first official visit that I went on was Murray State. After I toured the campus and met some of the girls on the team, I knew that Murray State was the place for me. I loved my coaches, my team and the professor I met with for Architecture. I loved that even though it was a division 1 college, it had a small-town feel. The town of Murray isn’t too much bigger than Circleville, so I just felt at home.
Question: What would you like to major in at Murray State?
Answer: I plan to major in Architecture at Murray State. I want to major in architecture because I think designing houses would be cool. I’ve always enjoyed looking at house plans and designing them, so I think that being an architect would be a good job for me.
Question: What does it take to excel and be an elite pole vaulter?
Answer: What I think makes a good pole vaulter is someone who is always upbeat and cheering on your teammates. When you’re part of a community and have that support system, you get better as an athlete. It helps you push yourself and the others around you, leading everyone to success. I practice at a club in Sunbury, Ohio called Buckeye Pole Vault Academy (BPVA). Our coaches there encourage us to be close and create a supportive culture. I didn’t realize how important this was until I got into high school. Now I understand why they like it so much. I have so many friends from BPVA that I would have never met if I didn’t start going there. I’ve created so many close bonds with some of the girls and we are constantly pushing each other to be our best. I think that this has been a big part of my success and especially at the state meet. I know a lot of people go into the state meet alone and don’t know too many athletes that are there. Once I start going to the bigger meets, I get to see all my BPVA friends there. Seeing them helps calm my nerves and just makes me feel at home.
My Logan Elm coach, Katy Blubaugh, is also great at helping me calm my nerves and stay focused. She has known me since I was two, when I started gymnastics classes at the YMCA. She was my gymnastics’ coach through eighth grade, when I decided to
focus on high school sports. She knows me so well that she can help me stay upbeat, even when I am having a bad day. If I’m
down and in a bad mood at a meet, she starts singing and doing the chicken dance until I start smiling and laughing. She is the
reason that I started pole vaulting and has been my school coach since I was in seventh grade.
Question: What are your personal goals this season and what type of work are you doing during the offseason to make that goal come true?
Answer: My personal goals this season are to jump 12 feet, and to be more confident with my jumps. During the offseason I’m going to lift to get stronger and work on being more explosive and powerful. I am also working on trusting my jumps more and not bailing as much.
Question: What is your favorite pole to use in competition?
Answer: My favorite pole brand to use is Essex. I started using them once I started going up to BPVA in 8th grade. Essex poles just really work for me. I like the way that they unbend and stay bent longer than what most pole brands do.
Question: Is there a pole vaulter that you look up to and try to emulate?
Answer: I look up to a lot of pole vaulters, but I think the ones I look up to the most are Katie Nagoette and Sondre Guttormsen. I went to the Reno National Pole Vault Summit last January and I met both of them, along with a bunch of other Olympians. I really like studying their form and trying to mimic what they are doing.
Question: Favorite meal?
Answer: Chicken Alfredo pasta with garlic
Question: Favorite place to eat out at?
Answer: Olive Garden. Pasta is my favorite food, and they also have really good garlic bread!
Question: Favorite musical group or genre?
Answer: My favorite music genre is country. My favorite artists are Tyler Childers, Cody Johnson, Bailey Zimmerman and Zach Bryan.
Question: Favorite movie?
Answer: Uncharted. I love all of the action that keeps you on the edge of your seat.
Question: Favorite place or store to shop at?
Answer: I have many places that I like to shop, but my favorite is probably TJ MAXX. They have so many things that you can buy and it isn’t too expensive.
Answer: I like to bake whenever I have free time. During the summer, I also like to fish, hike, paddle board and kayak.
Question: Favorite holiday?
Answer: Christmas. I love buying people gifts and making Christmas cookies.
Question: What is the best gift that you’ve given someone?
Answer: The best gift I’ve ever given someone would be to my best friend Kaitlyn. Last year for Christmas, I made her a chunky knit blanket that was Ohio State colors.
Question: What is the best vacation you’ve ever been on in your life?
Answer: The best vacation I’ve ever been on was last January when I went to Reno, Nevada. I went with my BPVA coaches, teammates and mom to the National Pole Vault Summit. I also got to meet a bunch of Olympic pole vaulters from around the world when I was there.
Question: Favorite memory from the Circleville Pumpkin Show?
Answer: My favorite memory from Pumpkin Show is from my junior year when I got to cheer on and watch two of my classmates compete for Pumpkin Show Queen.
Question: What do you see yourself doing 10 years from now and living if life goes as you intend?
Answer: I see myself having a job as an architect and if I’m lucky, maybe having my own business. I also see myself starting
to have a family in a house that I designed in the country.