Copley’s Dawson Mancabelli in prime position to compete in pole vault

The miles continue to add up on his 1998 beige Honda Accord, yet Copley senior Dawson Mancabelli isn’t too concerned.

Mancabelli made the drive from Copley to Orrville three times a week during a six-month span with the objective of improving in the pole vault.

His drive to succeed is paying off as he is in the midst of a senior season that has caught the attention of not only his high school coach, but college coaches too.

Mancabelli, 18, has state championship aspirations in Division I following a vault of 15 feet earlier this month in a dual at Tallmadge.

He came into this season with no first-place showings in any postseason track and field meet, but his recent results indicate he is a legitimate contender to win Suburban League, district, regional and state titles.

“I joined this pole vault club, Industrial Vault Club in Orrville, and they helped me a ton,” Mancabelli said. “The pole vault coach at Orrville, Dave Mackey, and the pole vault coach at Perry, Darren Ehmer, are the best high school pole vault coaches in the state in my opinion. Perry has a sophomore [Lucas Kelley] going 15-4. This club is represented every year at the state indoor and outdoor meets. They trained Morgan Estes of Green, who is a freshman at Kent State after winning two Division I state girls titles.

“Those two coaches have helped me a ton. Their training regimen has been very important and I dedicated myself to vaulting three days a week from October to March.”

Mancabelli, who has a 3.75 grade-point average, is looking at Eastern Michigan and Coastal Carolina. He plans to major in business, and specialize in economics or finance.

“I worked three jobs [Chick-fil-A, Red Lobster and American Eagle] and paid for my own gas to drive from Copley to Orrville three days a week,” Mancabelli said. “I was really dedicated to get going to the height I am right now.”

Mancabelli’s previous best pole vault results were 10 feet as a freshman, 11 feet as a sophomore and 12-6 as a junior.

He was second in the Suburban League last year and finished fifth at the district meet at Nordonia.

“There is a point in every athlete’s career, particularly in high school, where it clicks,” Copley coach Johnnie Legrair said. “Something finally gets to them where they get better. It has just clicked with Dawson. It is time. He knows he has to get to work and get things done. He has been very serious and very committed to getting better.”

Starting out

Mancabelli, who is 5-foot-6 and 145 pounds, started pole vaulting as a freshman.

“I played every sport under the sun as a kid; soccer, football, lacrosse, basketball and wrestling,” Mancabelli said. “It took me awhile to find my niche in pole vaulting, but I am glad that I found it. It’s a funny story, the only reason I got started in pole vaulting is that there were twins [Casie and Kayla Aitken, who pole vaulted] in the junior class, and they were the prettiest girls a freshman boy could see.”

Mancabelli comes from an athletic family in that his mother, Maria Theodore, was a swimmer at Duquesne and his father, Scott Mancabelli, played baseball at Duquesne. His sister, Alex, 22, twin sister, Leah, and brother Sean, 13, are also involved in athletics. Leah runs on the Copley girls team in the 400, 1,600 relay and 3,200 relay.

Showing improvement

Mancabelli has steadily improved to reach the 15-foot mark and is looking for more.

“His goal is to go to the state track and field meet,” Legrair said. “Not a week goes by where he doesn’t tell me what somebody did last week. He is constantly keeping up on what is going on. He has improved in his sprint technique, which you need to succeed in pole vault, by about 99 percent. We will probably race him a little in some sprint events. I like my field people to run.”

Mancabelli is cognizant of where he needs to get to win an outdoor state title. Midpark’s Aaron Owens won the state title last year at 16-0 and Gahanna Lincoln’s Jacob Blankenship won the previous two with jumps of 17-2 and 17-0. Owens is a freshman at Clemson and Blankenship is a sophomore at Tennessee.

“I definitely have some big goals and big aspirations,” Mancabelli said. “I cleared the 15-foot jump with a 14-foot pole. I actually have borrowed some 15-foot poles from some surrounding schools, one from CVCA and two from Cuyahoga Falls. My goal is to jump 16 feet on a 15-foot pole. I know that [Licking Heights senior Bryan Justice] won the indoor state meet with a 15-3.

“It is definitely not out of the question for me to jump 16 and take the state title. One more goal is to represent Ohio in the Midwest Meet of Champions. They take the top three in each event from Ohio, Michigan and Indiana, and I am hoping to compete in that meet.”



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