By Brad Morris
Since finishing fifth in the Division II state pole vault championships last June, Logan Elm senior Tayla Tootle has continued to work on honing her craft.
The Murray State signee took an important step in that journey on Friday by winning the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches (OATCCC) indoor state championship in Divisions II and III by tying her own school record with a vault of 12′ 6” at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva.
Tootle became the first athlete in school history to win an OATCCC indoor state championship.
“Starting off the day, I didn’t have the best warmups, because I wasn’t rolling as big of poles that I was wanting to,” Tootle said. “So, I knew that I was going to have to get inverted really well.”
Tootle successfully cleared 10′ 6” and 11′ on her first attempted and then passed on 11′ 3”. She resumed vaulting at 11′ 6” and successfully cleared the next five heights on her first attempt (11′ 9”, 12′, 12′ 3” and 12′ 6”).
Lehman Catholic junior Katie McFarland also cleared 12′ 6” but came in second due to the tiebreaker of not clearing 10′ 6” until her third attempt.
Tootle viewed today’s state championship as a step towards her goal of eventually clearing 13-feet.
“My goal going into the meet today was to win and get on a 13-foot pole that I had originally jumped 12’6” on,” Tootle said. “I also wanted to jump 13-feet, but sadly I wasn’t able to roll my 13-foot pole today.”
Tootle discussed the work she has put in since last June when she vaulted 11′ 6” at the state track and field championships. She previously has vaulted 12′ 2” at the pole vault summit in Reno, Nevada and successfully cleared 12′ 6” on February 18 at a meet hosted by the University of Akron.
“Since last year’s state meet, I have worked on getting faster and stronger,” she said. “This year, I’ve been working on bigger poles and getting upside down faster and staying with the pole as it unbends.”
Tootle is slated to travel to Boston next Sunday for the New Balance Nationals as she continues to prepare for her senior outdoor season, with the goal of winning a state championship this June inside Ohio State’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
“I think having a strong indoor season will help improve my confidence during outdoor season and also help set me up for more PR’s during outdoor,” Tootle said. “My goal is to win the outdoor state championships, but I will have to put in a lot of work for the tough competition ahead of me.”