Jade Riebold’s athletic career has been an experience full of highs and lows that have left her hungry for success and made her a wiser athlete.
A seasoned gymnast for 13 years, Riebold gave up on her dream after a two bulging discs in her back kept her from competing.
That is when she took up pole vaulting, and from that moment on, she vowed to become the best in the sport. Then she had a third bulging disc and needed to get surgery to fix it.
For a whole year, Riebold was relegated to the sidelines watching her teammates improve as she stayed in the same place.
“It was hard to take a year off and not compete,” Riebold said.
But none of that kept her from pole vaulting.
Her most recent upset came during the Olympic trials this past summer when the opportunity to compete among professional athletes was taken from her.
Riebold was notified that she had qualified for the trials the night before they started, and raced against time to catch a plane from South Carolina to Oregon.
But when she finally made it to the competition, Riebold was denied entry because she had been late.
The trials were pushed back two days because of the weather, still, officials kept her from competing.
“I begged and begged to be allowed to compete, but I wasn’t allowed to,” Riebold said.
That experience sucked out all of the motivation out of her, and, Riebold said, she thought she would never be able to compete again.
“I didn’t know if I was going to be able to pick up a pole again,” Riebold said. “I was so upset and stressed out. It was so detrimental.”
Riebold had to work with a sports psychologist to make herself better in order to pull herself out of the rut she was in.
She put the ordeal behind her, but that moment has been critical in her motivation for this indoor season and the outdoor season down the road.
With the help of coach Kyle Ellis, Riebold mapped out her road to success for this track season, and she is expecting to jump 14-feet, 6-inches before the indoor season caps off at the NCAA Last Chance Meet on Friday.
For the outdoor season, she wants to get as close to 15 feet as possible.
At the Ohio Valley Conference Indoor Championships this weekend, Riebold broke her own school record in the women’s pole vault and the OVC record, clearing a height of 14 feet. As of that competition, she is currently ranked seventh in the NCAA.
At the championships, Riebold eliminated the rest of the competition after making it over the bar on her first attempt at 13 feet.
Then she asked for the bar to be lifted one foot higher, something she had never done before.
Last outdoor season, she was clearing 14-feet, 1.75-inches in April.
Riebold’s training takes up most of her free time.
She spends 4-5 hours a day at practice. Two of those of days consist of pole vaulting, sprints and lifting.
During the others, she performs drills and practices in a swimming pool doing water vaulting, a form of training where pole vaulters simulate vaulting in water.
When she is vaulting at practice, coach Kyle Ellis raises the pole vault to heights Riebold has never cleared.
Riebold said this type of training has helped her better herself to new heights.
After both seasons end, Riebold said she has her eyes set on the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) World Championships in Moscow.
Riebold, who is currently a red-shirt junior pole vaulter, plans on competing professionally after graduating from Eastern, and next summer she will devote most of her time to the sport.
To her, competing on the world circuit is not a lofty goal.
In three years, Riebold wants to compete in the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympic Games.
In fact, she has no doubts that it will not happen.
“It’s not a dream, it’s a goal,” Riebold said.
For her, the journey as an athlete will continue past college. The only difference is she won’t be wearing an Eastern Jersey.
When asked what height she will be jumping if she qualifies for the 2016 Rio Games,
Riebold was quick to respond.
“When I make the Olympic games, it will be ideal to be jumping at 16 feet.”