Sage Lasater is soaring.
The 17-year-old Stephenville pole-vaulter is seeded No. 1 in the nation in the “Young Women’s Division” heading into the National AAU Junior Olympics being held this week in Knoxville, Tenn.
Joining 8,400 athletes from across the country, Lasater will attempt to defend her top seeding when she vaults against some of America’s best Thursday morning.
Her father, Russ, said she will be competing against about 25 other 17- and 18-year-old pole-vaulters who have qualified to participate in the meet.
“I’m excited about the Junior Olympics this week because it’s a goal that I’ve been working real hard for this summer, and it’s also a dream come true for me,” Sage said late Monday afternoon, as she left on her trip to Knoxville.
Lasater vaulted a new personal best of 12 feet during the AAU Region IX Championships in Alamo Stadium, capturing the Gold medal and a win that her father said was the equivalent of the state AAU championship “as it represents the entire state of Texas.”
The Top 4 qualifiers of the AAU Region IX Championships earned the right to advance to this week’s Junior Olympics.
Her 15-year-old sister, Senna, another top-notch pole-vaulter, tied for 5th place in her age division, barely missing the cut and qualifying for the Junior Olympics.
After compilation of all state AAU and USA Track ad Field meets prior to nationals, Sage has been ranked 8th nationally with her 12-foot vault in San Antonio by National Elite Youth Ranking System and has been designated as an “All-American” vaulter.
This past weekend, Sage and Senna participated in the state TAAF meet in Round Rock, as Sage captured the Gold Medal and Senna earned a Silver medal in her division while setting another personal record with a vault of 10’-6.”
“With Sage winning her Gold and Senna winning the Silver in their respective age divisions, both girls qualify for the National TAAF meet to be held later,” Russ Lasater said.
He said his daughters picked up pole-vaulting in junior high school and have progressively gotten better.
“It’s just an unique sport that they got drawn into in junior high, and the more they got involved in it, the more we became involved and enthralled in it,” he said.
The effort has also led to Sage being noticed by universities.
“With the success that she’s had this past year, and with the success she’s had throughout this summer, she’s gotten noticed and started to get feedback from universities,” he said.
Sage has vaulted 13 feet in practice “a couple of times,” he said, and the sky appears to be the limit.
“I’m excited to meet the competition,” she said.
The question is: Is the competition excited to meet her?
The answer? Probably not.
DOUG MYERS is Managing Editor of the Empire-Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 965-3124, ext. 229.