|Former Laurel Highlands pole vaulter Jared Jodon just completed an outstanding freshman year at Virginia Tech.|
He managed to go a bit higher later that summer when he won the Golden West Track & Field Invitational with a personal best 16-2¾.
So when Jodon continued his outstanding student-athlete career at Virginia Tech last fall, he not only went back to school in the classroom, but also hit the studies on the track to undo bad habits while at the same time learning techniques to carry him even higher.
The learning curve took some time, but was well worth the effort.
I had a change of technique, Jodon said of his work with vaulting coach Robert Phillips. I had to break some bad habits from high school. I had to completely start from scratch.
It was frustrating. High school is nothing compared to college. I had to start over on the bottom of the totem pole.
Jodon finished 11th at the Atlantic Coast Conference Outdoor Championships, hosted by the University of Maryland, with a top vault of 15-11. His outdoor vaults ranged from 4.45 meters (14-7½) for a seventh-place finish in the Clemson Invitational to winning his division in his last meet of the year, a 16-2 vault at the South Carolina-Columbia Crayfish Festival Street Vault. He even gave 16-9 a shot.
He finished eighth in the ACC Indoor Championships with a top effort of 4.82 meters (15-9¾) and was sixth at the Sykes-Sabock Challenge Cup with a vault of 16-¾. Jodon finished third at the Liberty Kickoff Invitational with a vault of 4.8 meters (15-9).
Although Jodon is more comfortable with what he has learned, he remains a work in progress.
It doesn't happen overnight. It was a complete 180 with technique. In the long run, it will translate into better heights. You have to get it down in your head before you physically do it.
Virginia Tech track & field coach Dave Cianelli echoed Jodon's outlook to his freshman season, and envisions a bright future for him.
Jared learned this year what it will take for him to be an elite collegiate vaulter, said Cianelli. He has the ability to be a 5.5-meter (18-feet) vaulter, but as with all young student-athletes they must learn first what it takes to be at that level.
Jared will become an elite collegiate vaulter. How long it takes for him to reach that level will be determined by him.
Jodon will continue his workouts overseas this summer when he travels to Stuttgart, Germany, this July with a coach and a couple of teammates, including Thorsten Mueller. He won't be competing, just practicing those techniques learned through his freshman season with the Hokies.
He not only excelled on the track and the field as the Mustangs' quarterback, but Jodon was also one of the area's top student-athletes and was awarded the Davis and Davis Fayette County Student-Athlete Scholarship, among other awards.
Jodon majors in biology, a demanding academic discipline on its own but made even tougher as a collegiate student-athlete. He maintained the level of success because of his personal outlook and commitment to both disciplines.
I enjoyed the classes. I had some great professors that made everything interesting, said Jodon. A lot of time is devoted to traveling, but I'm self-motivated to excel in both areas.
With all the hype surrounding Barry Bonds' pursuit to surpass Henry Aaron as baseball's all-time home run leader, Jodon had a refreshing outlook to his state pole vault record being eclipsed this spring when Hatboro-Horsham's Joe Berry vaulted 16-3 after a rain delay to win the Class AAA gold medal. He sees records being broken with regularity.
Records are meant to be broken, said Jodon. I wish I was there to shake his hand.
The sky is the limit. There are a lot of great coaches. I can see it happening every year.
Much has been written about fellow Laurel Highlands alum Breehana Jacobs' Olympic aspirations, and Jodon has similar ambitions.
I've set a lot of goals. I don't expect to stop anytime soon, explained Jodon. My ultimate goal is (to vault in) the Olympics.