Joining the Kent State Track and Field team this year is Leah Pasqualetti, the No. 1 pole vault recruit in the class of 2020.
“I get to continue doing what I love for at least four more years, It still brings a smile to my face when I think about that day,” said Pasqualetti, referring to the day she officially signed to compete for Kent State’s Track & Field team.
Pasqualetti started vaulting in 7th grade and “things took off from there,” she said.
She was a gymnast for most of her life, until her sophomore year of high school when she decided to focus only on track and her events. Pasqualetti started her pole vaulting career in 7th grade, and it started off very normal.
But then when going into her 8th grade year her personal record progressed from 8 feet and 6 inches to 10 feet and 10 inches in one year. In middle school, that is almost unheard of for a new vaulter. This event was her way to earn a spot on her high school’s varsity team.
Pasqualetti also participated in the 100m, 200m, 400m, and 4x400m races. Pole vault was her ticket to invitational meets. These invitational meets are where each school is invited by a host school to hold a larger meet. There are only two people from each school, in each event.
When going into high school, Pasqualetti, her family and her coaches knew she had a natural talent for pole vaulting. The summer going into 9th grade Pasqualetti began training with her coach, Mike Auble. “He has believed in me since day one. I don't think I’d be where I am if he hadn’t believed in me and wanted to push me further and further,” said Pasqualetti.
Just like all athletes all over the country, Pasqualetti did not get to compete in her senior season of Track and Field. But because of the season getting cancelled, her and her coach were invited to an indoor meet in California.
They attended The Stars and Stripes Big Red Barn Meet. This meet was created to put the best pole vaulters of the East coast and the West coast of the United States, and have them compete head-to-head.
Pasqualetti set the Girls National Junior (under age 20) record when she cleared 14 feet, 8.25 inches at this meet. She set the new national record by ¼ of an inch. When pole vaulting there is a bar set at a specific height, each athlete has 3 attempts per height. Pasqualetti broke this record on her first attempt.
“It was a very clean make and it just felt incredible,” Pasqualetti said.
“I want to take pole vaulting as far as God will let me,” Pasqualetti said. “I want to pole vault for as long as I physically can and as high as I am capable of.”
Now Pasqualetti is looking to reach 15 feet and 1 inch, to qualify for the Olympic trials. “This year I would love to make it to trials,” said Pasqualetti referring to the now 2021 Summer Olympics.
Pasqualetti is currently an undecided major but is taking a variety of history and writing courses to possibly pursue a pre-law degree. “I can’t wait to see more people again and make new friends. Especially at the dorms and training,” Pasqualetti said. “I’m ready to see smiling faces again.”
Jessica Urig covers sports. Contact her at email@example.com.