Athlete Spotlight: Pole vaulter, junior Julia Dong steps into varsity, looks forward to track season

Saumya Somasi

Julia Dong, pole vaulter and junior, prepares to jump off the pole at practice. Dong said her goal for this track season is to qualify for state and that she wants to continue pole vault in college. (Chenyao Liu)

What benefits are there to participating in pole vault?

Pole vault is very fun. (It’s) good for strength training and exercise. Pole vault also, unlike other sports or running events that I have done like hurdles, doesn’t hurt my shins or knees as much which is probably why I enjoy it more than other events.

How does training for pole vault compare to running and gymnastics, other sports you have also participated in?

Pole vault is really more like gymnastics than running track or cross country. For training, we focus a lot on strength and technique, which includes running, carrying, planting, and vaulting technique. Having a background in gymnastics definitely helped me a lot with getting into pole vault because I already had most of the core strength and movement awareness that you need to be successful in pole vault.

Why do you train at both UIndy and the CHS Stadium?

Especially during preseason of track in January and February, sometimes early March, the weather can be pretty bad for vaulting. UIndy has a really nice indoor track that has two pole vault runways and pits which allows us to train even if the weather isn’t ideal.

Julia Dong, pole vaulter and junior, prepares to jump at practice. Dong said pole vault is good for strength training and exercise. (Chenyao Liu)

Do you have plans to continue pole vault in college?

Yes, but it depends on offers which depend on my stats for this track season. But I don’t think I will be dependent on pole vault for college entrance. I am currently leaning more towards getting into a school first and then seeing if I can pole vault there because I prioritize my education a lot especially since pole vault will likely be something that I will eventually have to stop doing either after high school or undergraduate college.

What is it like joining the varsity pole vaulting team this year as a junior in your second complete season?

It is definitely a lot of pressure having to fill the shoes of three incredibly talented pole vaulters who graduated last year, but honestly, I don’t think it has changed much of my training or my attitude in practice or at meets. For me, sometimes pole vault can be very mental(ly taxing) so it’s important that I keep a good head space while vaulting and don’t overthink or stress out about other things.