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Senior ends career on podium

By JONAH ROSENBLUM Reporter Published: June 11, 2017 12:00 AM
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COLUMBUS -- Over and over, Tallmadge head girls track and field coach Mike Srodawa told Vanessa Lane, "Speed and explode."

He was referring to how his senior high jumper ought to handle the curve before leaping over the bar.

But it was also an apt summary for her season, when she exploded into Ohio's elite with a fourth-place finish at the Division I state meet June 3 at The Ohio State University's Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus.

"It was just an incredible day for her," Srodawa said.

Last year, Lane fell at the district level, with a height of 4-9, though she jumped as high as 5-2 during the season.

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This year, she gained five inches, jumping 5-5 to win the district championship and tying a school record with her leap of 5-7 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.

"At the beginning of the year when she was jumping in practice, you could tell that she was jumping higher than she had in previous years," Srodawa said. "Once we dialed stuff in the league week, she progressively got better."

At times, Lane made it look easy June 3.

After a strike on 5-2 with the back of her knee knocking against the bar, she got past 5-4 and 5-5 on her first try, with the bar quivering ever so slightly in her wake on the latter height.

Still, the senior said, it certainly wasn't easy.

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"That day when I realized I was making it to state, I was just happy," Lane said. "I was shocked slightly because I thought I could do it, but I didn't know it would actually happen, so I was very happy."

Nerves eventually hit, as was to be expected, although they came from an unexpected source. She said that the Tallmadge baseball team's semifinal win June 1 was a stark reminder that her turn was coming up.

"I was like, 'Oh no, this is happening. It's [June 3]. This is happening,'" Lane said. "I was like, 'Okay, they're down here and I'm going now' and I was really scared."

But she didn't seem scared on the big stage of Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.

Before every jump, she performed the same calm routine, rocking back a slight bit, then a little bit further, then stretching back one more time before "speeding and exploding."

She didn't jump scared either, setting a personal record by hitting 5-6 on her third and final try. When she did the same on 5-7, the bar once more quivering in her wake, she let out a scream, "Yeah!"

The third jump is a stressful situation, but if anything, Lane said she was more likely to succeed on those final tries.

"That's the part that really helps me," Lane said. "When I miss it twice, it makes me mad obviously, so that's motivation."

It was one heck of a final run from Lane, whose smile grew broader and broader as the afternoon wore on.

"I was just happy," Lane said. "I was really happy."

So much so that even when it came to an end, with Lane ultimately falling an inch short of the state championship, she didn't frown.

Instead, she turned to Srodawa and said quite simply, "Pretty good."

Indeed.

"Five inches is huge," Srodawa said. "Just incredible, I can't say enough good stuff about her."

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