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Julia Lasley soars to new heights

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Julia Lasley Still

ANNA (WSIL) -- Anna-Jonesboro's Julia Lasley is one of the best pole vaulters in the area and she's taking her talents to Mississippi State in the fall.

The future SEC athlete keeps things simple.

"Just jump off the ground as high as you can, " Lasley said.

"And then all of a sudden you're in the air and in a blink of an eye, it's over with."

"Definitely when you go over the bar, the feeling of just looking down on it and knowing you're over it, that's the best feeling."

Julia developed the love of the sport from her dad Matt, a former track athlete at the University of Illinois.

"She always took an interest in gymnastics at a real young age so obviously I had a little bit of a plan that if she liked gymnastics as much as she did, the transition would be smooth," Matt Lasley said.

"Grown up into it," Julia Lasley said. "He showed me how it works and from a young age I started so I had a good amount of potential going into it and just kept going on with it."

"Didn't pressure either of my kids in that direction, but if she took an interest, she had the base, form really for pole vaulting, Matt Lasley said.

"In the beginning, I really didn't like it that much but I definitely fell in love with it as I kept doing it, as I got better," Julia Lasley added.

Once Julia made it clear, jumping was for her, Matt decided it was time to coach her. And the recent Anna-Jonesboro grad credits her dad for her success.

"I'd probably be doing a sport but it'd probably be either gymnastics or volleyball and I'd probably not make it as far," Julia Lasley said.

"Having a coach in pole vaulting is essential," Matt Lasley said. "Growing up in my career, I had coaches from other towns that helped me out so having a little bit of a knowledge of the sport is essential to pick the right poles to really aid in that process."

Julia has an advantage over lots of other athletes during this pandemic. She has a facility to train in and over the years, it's provided her and her brother plenty of options besides pole vaulting.

"Growing up my father kind of did the same thing. I had an old basketball court in one of our old hay sheds and that's where the inception of this building took place and I thought what better thing to do than to build something kids can enjoy and get better at sports."

"I remember when we first quarantined and I saw all the athletes posting 'I can't train' and all I had to do is walk outside so I never stopped," Julia Lasley said. "I never really stopped during this so it's amazing it didn't really affect me that much."

Julia's hard work paid off. She's taking her talents to Mississippi State.

"I really like the coach. We got along really well and me going over there, he has a lot of high standards. I'm supposed to jump 13 feet pretty much next year but I've only jumped 11'6" and that's a big jump but I like what he sees in me and I'm excited to explore my potential and the school. I'm going to be like the fifth jumper. At other schools, I would be like the thirteenth jumper so it's a perfect fit. It's a good distance from home. It's not too far, it's just a great school, a great program."

Jason Hurst

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