By Bill Bray
Allison Taylor, the 2021 Horse Queen at the Sandusky County Fair, a cross country star, swim star, and now pole vault star will be one of 18 high school pole vaulters hoping to stand at the top of the podium Saturday at Ohio State’s Jesse Owens Track and Field complex. Her best jump of 12’ has her sitting just four inches behind the top vaults in Division I.
Taylor started her climb in seventh grade but didn’t break into the limelight until last season when she won district, finished fourth in the region, and made it to her first state meet.
“The meet was at Hilliard Darby High School,” Taylor remembered. “There was a crowd of people around the long jump and pole vault areas as they were close together. It didn’t really bother me, but I know that jumping at the Jesse Owens Track in Columbus will be a whole lot better.” Taylor vaulted in Hilliard because of the pandemic that forced the three Divisions to meet at different facilities.
Allison has a very strong support system, and none care more than her coach of six years, Pryde Yost. Yost, a 1999 Fremont Ross graduate, attended the University of Findlay where he vaulted after swim and baseball dominated his high school years. “I came back to help the swim program in 2007,” Yost explained. “I was at the pool and (Cathy) Esposito and (Art) Bucci came to me. They asked, ‘Pryde we know you pole vaulted in college and a little bit in high school, you want to come coach these kids? We have a lot of them out there and they are about ready to kill themselves.’
“I was nervous, Yost admitted. “I was just afraid that I would not coach them to be all they could be.” Yost has taught and has had a real impact on the school pole vault record through the years. He has coached the last four female record holders and remembers when each one of them had no idea what the pole vault was all about.
Yost certainly has shown the four young athletes the way. He has been the coach since the advent of girl’s pole vault. Including the boys, Yost has coached both current Ross record holders in the event. “Allison started like anyone else,” Yost said. “They don’t know how to hold the pole; they don’t know the top from the bottom or the soft side of the pole. I started with Annmarie (Moses) after fifth grade, started with Allison after sixth grade, and Amber (Otermat) was probably about that same age. Ellen Silva started vaulting her sophomore year. Ellen would walk from the long jump to the track for a relay and I kept telling her, ‘You should try this, you should try this.” Ellen finally did try it and ended up holding the very first pole vault record for the girls at 9’6” back in 2010. During Silva’s senior season she improved under Yost’s guidance and finished fourth at the state meet with a jump and school record of 11’6”. It wasn’t until five years later in 2016 that Otermat went over 12’ to place 14th at state. Moses came along and cleared the current school record of 12’3” at the district meet in 2019. Moses, now studying at Ohio State, has fond memories of her time in the purple and white. “I felt a large sense of accomplishment when I broke the record because I was young and I knew that I could just keep chasing it throughout my remaining years at Fremont Ross. It was fun to re-set the record everytime I earned a personal best because it was two accomplishments bundled into one,” Moses continued. “Pryde was always very supportive and pushed me to be the best athlete I could be,” Moses said. “He was always putting in extra hours to make sure that I had a coach there to help me reach my potential.”
This season is no different as Taylor has a legitimate chance to add her name to the record board occupied currently by Moses. With Taylor’s leap of 12’ she is going into the state meet as the TRAC, district, and regional champion.
Ironically enough, after clearing 12’ at state, the bar will get moved to 12’4”. Moses’ record is 12’3” that she accomplished at the district meet in 2019. Also, ironically enough, 12’4” could very well win the meet this weekend. “To Allison, I would just like to wish her the best of luck and to remind her to have fun with it!” Moses said. “The state meet is such a fun atmosphere where you get to compete with the best girls around. Soak it all in and enjoy your last moments as a Little Giant.”
This past 10 months, Taylor has been to regionals as a participant in cross country, she has been to the state swim championships in Canton as a participant this winter and now she makes her way to The Ohio State University on the biggest Track and Field stage in the state. Despite her rigorous swim schedule that gobbled up her winter, Taylor made her way to Altitude Headquarters in Bellevue where she practiced vaulting and perfecting her event. If that wasn’t enough, Taylor also is an equestrian. “I have always like horses, but during the pandemic when there was nothing else to do, I got more serious about it.”
But this spring it has been all about the pole vault. “Allison does a lot of things correctly,” Yost said. “You’ll hear other coaches at meets talking about her as she jumps. She puts it together, she’s not the tallest or the fastest or the strongest but she’s a 12’ + jumper.”